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The Dirty Truth behind Dirty John

dirty john

In a world where online streaming services are slowly replacing television, it’s no surprise that platforms such as Netflix and Stan are being used to communicate important and sometimes frightening messages.  If you’re like the vast majority of us, you’ve probably watched (or at least heard about) the latest gripping and heart-wrenching eight part series on Netflix, Dirty John. The true crime series is based on the tale of a man (unsurprisingly named John) who manipulated and coerced women into controlling and toxic relationships, only to continue to harass them even after the relationships broke down.

Although the series makes for interesting viewing, more importantly it highlights the various ways in which domestic and family violence can occur and how it has a significant impact on not only the victim, but the people around them including family members, friends, and colleagues.

Although the events of Dirty John took place in the United States, when considering the series in the context of Queensland legislation, we can identify multiple facets of John’s behaviour that would be deemed as acts of domestic violence and consequently would form grounds for a Domestic Violence Protection Order.

Firstly, John demonstrates financial control through his relationship with Deborah.  John monitors Deborah’s use of her bank accounts and interrogates Deborah about withdrawals of funds from these accounts.

John also becomes emotionally and psychologically abusive at various times throughout the relationship, including isolating Deborah from her family.  He further manipulates Deborah by suggesting that he “will not be able to live” if she ever left him.

When he doesn’t get his way, John makes threats towards Deborah and her family, particularly her daughter, including making threats to “throw her in the ocean”.  Towards the end of the relationship, John threatens to physically hit Deborah to the point that she “will not get back up”.

John also takes steps to control and dominate Deborah completely, particularly once their relationship has broken down.  John follows and stalks Deborah and her family through video surveillance cameras and by physically following her, he damages her property by destroying her car, and further attempts to attack her family members.  Throughout their relationship, John incessantly contacts Deborah via telephone and text message and makes demands that she contact him.

John’s behaviour demonstrates that whilst he is not always physically violent towards Deborah or her family at any point, his behaviour would still constitute domestic violence in Queensland and provide grounds for Deborah to apply for a protection order against him.

If you have any concerns or questions about a situation that you are in or have been witness to, please contact one of our offices to arrange a no-obligation initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers.

If your situation is life threatening or urgent in any way, please call 000 or the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 737 732.

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