Signal Boost: women being prosecuted for retracting domestic violence allegations

From Destroy the Joint, prompted by this article in the Australian, about a woman who faced criminal charges for being too frightened to continue with her testimony against her abusive partner, a call for action at NSW state level.

This is directly from the DtJ FB page:

Victims of domestic violence need our help. Women in NSW are being charged after retracting domestic violence allegations against their partners.

Since 2006, the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT has represented 20 Indigenous women who were charged with either false accusation or public mischief offences following the retraction of a domestic violence allegation. There was no investigation of the retraction itself – the women were just charged on the basis of their testimony that the domestic violence did not happen – and three of the women were handed jail terms by country magistrates.

The solution to the shocking problem of NSW police inappropriately charging alleged victims of domestic violence with criminal offences when they buckle to pressure & retract their allegations is simple.

Call upon the Attorney General Greg Smith to issue a direction to the NSW DPP under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act to ensure that no one is prosecuted solely for retracting an allegation of domestic or sexual violence without the approval of a senior lawyer within the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The cases reported in The Australian by journalist Natasha Robinson demonstrate that unless this occurs NSW police will continue to further victimize highly vulnerable woman who recant allegations due to pressure, threats and duress.

The recent reporting of the cases in which Aboriginal woman already at risk have been jailed solely for retracting DV allegations has been a reminder of the harsh way our criminal justice can treat the state’s most defenceless citizens, particularly in remote areas.

Please act now. Email the NSW Attorney-General and ask him to issue the direction to the NSW DPP to ensure no-one will ever be charged for simply retracting an allegation of domestic violence. Mr Smith’s email is or or

Update: Attorney-General Greg Smith has made a statement that he has no plans to revise the existing laws relating to this matter. Now is the time to up the pressure.

Categories: crisis, gender & feminism, indigenous, law & order, social justice, violence

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. Not that this is acceptable in any context, but it’s particularly telling that these women are all aboriginal. I struggle to imagine that a white woman has never retracted her testimony in this context.

  2. Sure as eggs plenty of white women have retracted statements about Family/Domestic Violence. I know because I am white and I made a police statement about my former husband breaking my jaw. I later retracted it because he threatened to kill me if I didn’t retract. I wasn’t charged by the police. They eye-rolled at me but they didn’t charge me. If I had been Aboriginal I may well have been charged.

    • There are definitely instances of white women being charged and even imprisoned in these circumstances, but the examples I know of happened in the UK. I don’t know about NSW, it certainly looks from this report as if the police are targeting Aboriginal women. However, I wouldn’t want to assume that there are no women from other ethnic groups who have experienced this, without concrete information on the subject.

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