A woman is misidentified as a perpetrator of family violence by the police.


Immediately after the birth of her daughter, Stephanie’s partner became verbally abusive and began criticising her and her family. He rarely helped out with the baby and became aggressive when Stephanie’s mother visited their home to help her. By the time the baby was a few months old, Stephanie and her partner were arguing regularly but she had hopes that their relationship would improve.

One night, after an argument in which he hit and pushed Stephanie, her partner took her phone, locked himself in the bathroom and called police, claiming that she had attacked him. When the police arrived they chose to believe her partner’s side of the story and removed her from her home, leaving her baby with him. Police applied for an interim intervention order (IVO) against Stephanie and she had to move to her parents’ house. Not long after, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) questioned Stephanie to determine if she posed a risk to her child.


We met Stephanie through our duty lawyer service and quickly established that she had been misidentified by police as the aggressor. Our lawyer had the initial hearing adjourned, arguing that police needed to investigate the events further. Stephanie was able to return to her parents’ house with her daughter.

At Stephanie’s second court appearance police refused to withdraw their application for an IVO so our lawyer advised Stephanie to apply for an IVO against her ex-partner, who continued to threaten her each time she saw him. This allowed our lawyer to have the matter adjourned again while the police conducted a risk assessment. Finally, at Stephanie’s third court appearance, the police withdrew their IVO application and Stephanie was able to get on with her life and plan for her future and her baby’s future. However, she says she would be too scared to call police again if she is in trouble.