A culture of consent: legal practitioners’ experiences of representing women who have been misidentified as predominant aggressors on family violence intervention orders in Victoria, Australia

Ellen Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is currently unprecedented attention in Australia on the misidentification of women victim-survivors as family violence ‘predominant aggressors’—this focus has largely been oriented towards the role of the police. Less research has considered court responses to misidentification and specifically, the role that legal practitioners play in recognising and responding to clients who have been misidentified. This article addresses this key gap in the literature through an exploration of 18 legal practitioners’ experiences of representing misidentified clients in the civil protection order system in the Australian state of Victoria. The findings suggest that legal practitioners face a number of challenges when representing clients who have been misidentified and that the magistrates’ courts are ill-equipped to respond to misidentification. As a consequence, a culture of respondents consenting to orders that should never have been made against them is maintained. This article calls for a greater focus on the role that the courts can play in providing a ‘safety net’ for victim-survivors who have been misidentified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-390
Number of pages22
JournalFeminist Legal Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Australia
  • Court responses
  • Family and domestic violence
  • Law
  • Legal practice
  • Misidentification

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