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Judges to be schooled on how to avoid “victim-Blaming” domestic violence victims

Push to eliminate sexist and old-fashioned language in NSW courts

Judges dealing with domestic violence cases in NSW will be given lessons how to use language that avoids sexism and “victim-blaming”.

A report by the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team uncovered numerous examples of sexist or “old-fashioned” terms being used by judges delivering sentences in the NSW Supreme Court and the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the review team discovered the phrase “yummy mummy complex” was used in a case of woman who became obsessed with cleaning her home as a result of her abuser’s psychological control.

The report found judges were using words such as “happy” and “normal” to describing relationships despite evidence of domestic violence forming part of their remarks in sentencing, while another abuser was said to be in a state of “jealous anger” when he set his girlfriend on fire. 

“This language minimises perpetrator accountability and minimises the abuser’s intentionally harmful behaviours,” the team noted.

The review team is now consulting with the NSW Judicial Commission – the body charged with educating magistrates and judges – to develop ways in which judges and magistrates discuss domestic violence.

“Using stronger and more appropriate language during sentencing will send a clearer message to perpetrators and the community that domestic violence, of any kind, is not acceptable,” said a spokesperson for the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team.

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