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Your Right to Safety: AVO for Emotional Abuse

AVO for emotional abuse

An apprehended Violence Order (AVO) for emotional abuse is an order put in place by a court to protect a person against a proven act of threat or violence from another person in the form of emotional abuse.

Under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW), an AVO is also known as a Restraining Order, a legal document restricting someone from doing certain things to another person.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse, also called psychological abuse, is a form of manipulative behaviour that can affect a person’s mental health and emotional well-being.

There may also be sexual, financial, or physical abuse going on at the same time in filing for an AVO for emotional abuse.

But it doesn’t have to be combined with other types of abuse to be considered one.

It can be hard to explain what emotional abuse is at times.

Below is a list of examples to help you understand what it looks like, how it affects victims, and what signs to look for if you’re worried you’re loved one is going through the same thing.

Different Types of Emotional Abuse

Any of the following can be a form of emotional abuse:

  • Verbal Abuse: It may also be ongoing and repeated yelling and name-calling. The affected can get an AVO for verbal abuse.
  • Constant Criticism and Rejection: Underestimating a person’s actions, appearance and opinions repeatedly. 
  • Gaslighting: This is a form of psychological abuse in which the abuser tries to confuse the victim by twisting the truth and making them doubt their own judgement and instinct.
  • Social Abuse: Isolating a person from friends and relatives or restricting who they may see or communicate with. It might also appear as an attempt to destroy other relationships or reputation by sharing pictures without approval and constantly tracking the activities of the victim.
  • Threats and Intimidation: Making the other person feel scared or unsafe all the time.
  • Bullying and Humiliation: Putting the other person down or embarrassing them on purpose in public. 
  • Financial Abuse: Keeping a person from working or earning their own money to control them financially.

What Does an AVO for Emotional Abuse Do?

An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) restricts the behaviour of the individual who is abusing the victim.

The court may impose additional conditions, such as requiring the abuser to leave home or avoid getting near the protected person.

After an order has been issued, it is illegal for them to break it, and should contact the police if they do so.

Also read: What Happens If a Domestic Violence Victim Doesn’t Show Up for Court

Eligibility for Applying an AVO

You may apply for an AVO for yourself for Emotional Abuse if you:

  • are experiencing verbal abuse
  • are being intimidated, bullied, humiliated, or stalked by someone

AVO for Emotional Abuse Application

The affected party can start by calling the police and telling them what’s happening. They can give advice and might even fill out the application on the victim’s behalf.

The victim can fill out an application for an AVO for emotional abuse at a local court, which is called a “private application,” or they can ask a police officer, a lawyer, or someone trusted to do it on their behalf.

It’s highly advisable to talk to an AVO lawyer. It is not mandatory, but it’s a grave order, and it’s good to know options and rights.

Points to Remember in an AVO Application for Emotional Abuse

The affected party will need to sign a legal document detailing the reasons for their apprehensions about safety, either for themselves or their children, along with providing instances of the defendant’s actions or verbal misconduct.

Once the application is successfully submitted, a court date will be assigned. Subsequently, the defendant will be informed of the specifics by law enforcement, who will also provide a copy of the emotional abuse AVO application.

The defendant has the option to consent to the order, challenge it (which necessitates legal representation), or request an alternative court date to seek legal counsel.

In the event that the defendant engages in threats, intimidation, or any actions contrary to the order, a call to the police is advisable, who will initiate an investigation.

Breaking the order constitutes a criminal offense.

Maintaining evidence of the breach can be invaluable.

For instance, preserving records of abusive phone calls or maintaining a diary or written notes detailing the occurrences can prove helpful

Defending an AVO Alleging Emotional Abuse

If the defendant opts to contest an AVO for emotional abuse, it becomes imperative to advance to a court hearing.

The Applicant will present their case to the judge and try to get a final AVO.

The defendant need to put on evidence explaining their position.

The AVO lawyers will also be there to cross-examine the PINOP.

After the Court listens to the evidence, the Court will either:

  • make a Final Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), or
  • dismiss the AVO and make no orders.

Another option would be to try and have the AVO dropped before it goes to a hearing.

This can be done by negotiating with the police or writing to them inviting them to drop the charges.

Our AVO lawyers have plenty of experience doing this, so get in touch with our team today.

What Are the Effects of Emotional Abuse?

Research has shown that adults who have been subjected to mental or emotional abuse are more likely to experience:

  • Lack of contentment in relationships
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low self-confidence
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Increased physical health issues


Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) for emotional abuse is applied by a person who seeks protection against a proven act of threat or violence from another person in the form of psychological abuse.

Get in touch with our team of AVO lawyers who will be able to assist you with your enquiries.

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