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Legal abuse

  • Legal abuse is also called legal bullying
  • It happens when someone uses the law or legal threats to scare and control you
  • Legal abuse can be a form of domestic and family violence
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing legal abuse, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat

What is legal abuse?

Legal abuse, or legal bulling, happens when someone uses the law or legal threats to control and scare you. There may be a pattern to the behaviour that happens again and again. Sometimes other types of abuse are going on at the same time. If this kind of abuse is being used to scare and control you it may be domestic or family violence.

Courts and legal processes are there to help us solve hard problems. However, sometimes people use the law to scare others, wear them down, or stop them moving on with their life. It is common to find dealing with legal issues stressful, but they should not be used to scare and control you.

Legal abuse can take many forms:  

  • Deliberately causing delays, including
    •  Appealing decisions when there is no chance of success
    •  Not providing documents
    •  Constantly changing lawyers
  • Making false reports to the courts or police
  • Legal threats made for the purposes of scaring and controlling you
  • Stopping you from getting legal advice or speaking to an advocate
  • Interfering with or destroying legal documents belonging to you
  • Destroying documents that might be used as evidence against a perpetrator of violence
  • Not doing what the court has ordered
  • Representing themselves (this means being their own lawyer) when they have no reason to do so. This can cause problems such as:
    •  Allowing them to speak to people that they would not be able to speak to
    •  Not filling in papers in the right way, causing delays
    •  Creating large legal bills for the other person. For example, by making lots of phone calls to the person’s lawyer or sending them lots of emails

 Legal abuse can be a form of domestic or family violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing legal abuse it is OK to ask for help.

Who is responsible for legal abuse?

Legal abuse can happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Carers or paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians or other family members
  • Adult children
  • Other people you live with or see often, whether inside or outside the home

None of these people has the right to use the legal system to scare and control you.