Domestic Violence Act South Africa

Domestic Violence Act South Africa

South Africa is notorious for having a high rate of domestic violence reports, so let’s go over the Domestic Violence Act.

Furthermore, cases go unreported to the police.

Like a pandemic, domestic violence reports have soared over the last few years. Domestic violence peaked exponentially during the national lockdown.

Domestic violence comes in many forms, and its victims vary. Even though most domestic violence acts are against women, men can also be the victims of it.

Some laws protect us all against abuse.

What Is Domestic Violence?


The South African Police Service defines Domestic Violence in the following ways:

  • Sexual abuse (You can experience sexual abuse within marriage too);
  • Physical abuse – assault, slapping, biting, kicking and punching, and physical threats;
  • Property damage or deliberate damage to anything you value;
  • Stalking – particularly if you have asked someone to stay away from you;
  • Economic or financial abuse. The abuser keeps money from you in an unreasonable manner.
  • They won’t pay or share the rent or bond for the home you share.
  • They dispose of any property of your belongings without your permission.
  • Emotional abuse includes repeated insults, belittling, humiliation, swearing and threats.

What is the Domestic Violence Act in South Africa?


The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 protects domestic violence victims. The DVA ensures the government commits to stopping domestic violence.


The DVA allows you to get a protection order against an abuser. The protection order bars the perpetrator from abusing you. If your abuser attacks you, they would be breaching the protection order. In that case, they can be arrested and taken to court for disobeying the protection order.


You deserve to live a life free of abuse. If you are in a precarious situation, call the cops. Don’t hesitate to get the authorities involved. iER can connect you to help in minutes.


Signs Of A Domestic Violence Relationship

Physical Signs

A victim of physical abuse has frequent bruises or physical injuries. The marks are consistent. They usually result in punches, choking and even unconsciousness. The victim is likely to have vague explanations for injuries.

Signs of physical abuse can include:

  • Black eyes
  • Bruised limbs
  • Busted lips
  • Red or purple neck marks
  • Sprained wrist

As a physical abuse victim, you may try to cover the above signs with clothes. Examples include long sleeves or a scarf in summer, plus heavy make-up and oversized sunglasses.

Emotional Signs

Domestic violence can lead to an emotional toll. You may feel helpless, hopeless or in despair and believe you may never escape your abuser.

Other signs also include:

  • A constant state of alertness and never being able to relax.
  • You may see changes in your sleep routine.
  • Develop a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Become very apologetic.
  • Lose interest in daily activities.
  • Have lower self-esteem.
  • Constantly feel fearful.
  • Feel depressed.
  • Speak about or try to commit suicide.


Symptoms can occur because of other conditions or existing factors in your life. But they are typical signs of domestic abuse victims stuck in abusive relationships.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Are you thinking about leaving your abuser? You might feel overwhelmed with confusion, uncertainty and fear. As a victim of a domestic violence relationship, it is normal to have hope that your partner can change. It’s frightening to imagine how your abuser reacts when they catch you trying to leave.

Try to steer away from those feelings and consider your safety. Remind yourself of the following, provided by HelpGuide:

  • You are not to blame for battering mistreatment.
  • You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behaviour.
  • You deserve respect.
  • You deserve a safe and happy life.
  • Your children deserve a safe and comfortable life.
  • You are not alone. People are waiting to help you.

South Africa’s New Laws of Gender-Based Violence (GBV)


Three GBV bills have been signed into legislation. They serve to protect women, children, and GBV victims and ensure more justice.


The government introduced the bills following many GBV cases and the rape and murder of a university student in 2019.


What Do The New Laws Entail?


The new legislation made it compulsory for authorities to place sexual offenders on a national register. The protection order will be more accessible.


Victims of abuse can search online for them instead of going to court. That reduces their risk of having any interaction with their abuser.


The definition of domestic violence extends to married or engaged victims of assault. It also includes those who are:


  • Those who are dating
  • In established relationships
  • In actual or perceived romantic, intimate and sexual relationships regardless of the duration.


Hopefully, the new laws will create a breakthrough. Let’s make it difficult for perpetrators to escape from their wrongdoings.


Break The Silence On Domestic Violence


Here are some important contact details that every victim should note:

  • SAPS emergency number: 10111
  • Gender-Based Violence Command Centre: 0800 428 428
  • STOP Gender Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#


Learn More: Domestic Violence – How to Rebuild Your Life


Protect Yourself Against Domestic Violence!


iER responds to silent alerts by communicating via text when you cannot speak. Download the iER App to send silent alerts when in danger:

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