8. Advice for falsely accused men
Only Tasmania currently has criminal laws against coercive control but other states are following. (See Part 2. The worldwide state of play.) It’s wise to be aware of what lies ahead, particularly if you are in a relationship where the new laws could be used against you.
Mainstream media and social media forums already suggest that women are planning to use this new legislation as another weapon against men.
Men who believe they may be vulnerable to accusations either during a relationship breakdown or while in a relationship with an abusive or violent woman, should make sure they are not engaging in a course of behaviour that fulfills the criteria of this offence.
They urgently need to make themselves aware of the new coercive control legislation in their State or Territory.
The legislation will not apply retrospectively so previous conduct before the legislation comes into effect cannot form part of the charges or allegations. However, if this legislation is applied in the same manner as existing domestic violence legislation, police may implement a pro-prosecution policy – which means prosecuting cases against men even with little to no reasonable likelihood of success.
Being a man subjected to charges of false or malicious abuse that are unlikely to succeed in court will still result in:
Arrest and being charged, being kept in detention in a watch house subject to an application for bail which can take up to 24 hours.
Possible denial of bail and being held in custody for many months pending trial.
A hearing and facing a conviction, fine and/or up to 7 years in jail. Such a hearing will cost tens of thousands of dollars to defend even if it is never likely to result in a conviction.
Any of these outcomes may impact employment and will inevitably be used against the man in any Family Court proceedings. Mental and physical health of an accused male can be gravely impacted. Innocent men have harmed or killed themselves in remand centres and jails waiting for trial.
Relationships with children, family, friends and work colleagues can also be destroyed in this process.
If you have fears of any of the above occurring, be extremely careful, seek legal advice and leave the relationship as soon as possible.
How to protect yourself against accusations?
Don’t engage in repeated abusive conduct as defined in the Act, which includes:
Making comments that could be perceived as threats.
Monitoring of communication. Never access your partner’s technology or social media, even if you feel justified in order to investigate infidelity.
Making derogatory taunts of any nature, including criticism, even if you are responding to similar taunts.
Damaging property even if by accident if that could be interpreted as intentional.
Using any form of financial control. In any modern relationship it is always sensible to each exercise financial autonomy. If you are the sole income earner, pay an agreed contribution to your intimate partner for use at her absolute discretion and document the agreement.
Locking your partner out of the house, for whatever reason.
Interfering in any way with your partner’s ability to maintain friendships/family/culture etc.
Repeating any of the above on more than two occasions.
If you have been accused
At present our system rewards women for making false allegations and they suffer little or no consequences even if found out. See this video for an example.
If you have been accused then you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Don’t make things worse by being lured or trapped into behaving in a coercive manner by:
Allowing yourself to be provoked by abuse from your partner. Remember that you partner may be trying to provoke you so that they can fabricate evidence against you.
Engaging in mutual/reciprocal abuse.
You may be referred to 1800-RESPECT or MensLine Australia for “help”. Understand that these organisations will assume you are guilty and treat you accordingly.