I cheered when I read this article about a woman who sued her violent husband for damages. It's not that I think $200,000 (less court costs) makes up for the abuse she suffered, it's the principle of the thing. I hope that more women do it.
I know abused women who have found the Family Court ineffective, because it is in the difficult position of taking one person's word against another's and (especially if there are children in the case) having very little in the way of teeth to enforce breaches of its orders. But a civil case, where you could lose lots of money, your livelihood, and face bankruptcy or even gaol for non-compliance, is a whole different kettle of fish.
There are probably many social and economic reasons why this precedent won't lead to a raft of similar cases, but I wish it would. I think a hit to the hip-pocket nerve would turn out to be quite effective in curbing domestic violence. If you knew that hitting your wife could very well cost you a year's wages, or your beloved V8 street machine, wouldn't you think twice before you threw a punch?