Domestic Violence: How to report a case
Domestic violence is a massive problem in South Africa, which has the highest number of reported cases of domestic violence in the world. The numbers have increased drastically during the national lockdown, which has been in effect for the better part of three months. But there is help available.
If you are feeling scared, call the police immediately. If you do not know the number for your local depot, call 10111. Make sure that you are in a safe, inconspicuous area of the home, out of earshot of your abuser.
Anyone can fall victim to Domestic Violence
Domestic violence affects mostly women and young children, but men can also be the victims of this type of abuse. Domestic abuse does not only refer to physical violence but also emotional, verbal and psychological torment. Domestic violence can be an isolated incident of aggression and violence. It can also be an ongoing assault, as well as an act of bodily harm or sexual misconduct against a victim. Intimidation is also a form of abuse and should be taken very seriously. Your home should be a space of relaxation and calm. It should be a haven from the outside world.
This situation can be very damaging to everyone who lives in the home. Even kids who witness domestic violence are affected, regardless of whether they have been abused or not.
Although the exact percentages are unconfirmed, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women experience domestic violence significantly more than men, reports Divorce Laws. Women are also more likely to be physically assaulted by their partners, with a number of incidents resulting in death.
Domestic violence and gender-based violence are taken very seriously worldwide. The annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that runs every December to challenge violence against women and girls. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is 10 December, Human Rights Day.
It is important to note that domestic violence cases happen in all types of relationships; same-sex unions, as well as heterosexual relationships, and have the same chance of becoming toxic. Domestic violence is an infringement on the rights of the victim.
Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998
Domestic violence is regulated by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. The Act was introduced to afford women protection against domestic violence by creating obligations on law enforcement, like the South African Police Service (SAPS), to protect victims.
The Act attempts to provide victims of domestic violence with an accessible legal instrument with which to prevent further abuses taking place within their domestic relationships. It acts as a barrier between the victim and the abuser, threatening the abuser with jail time if there is an overstepping of boundaries against the victim.
The Act recognises domestic violence is a serious crime. It extends the definition to include not only married women and their children, but also single women. They can be women who are involved in relationships or living with their partners, people in same-sex relationships, mothers and their sons, and other people who cohabit.
What do I do if I feel threatened?
The Department of Social Development has established the Gender-based Violence Command Centre with a toll-free number 0800 428 428 and a ‘please call me’ number *120*7867#.
If you feel that you and your family (or even someone you know) are in danger, you can take out a protection order against an abuser. Call the police immediately if you feel that your life and safety are threatened. If you are a victim of any act of domestic violence, approach the local magistrate’s court and request assistance to apply for a protection order. Any person who is a victim of an act of domestic violence may apply to a court for a protection order says Justice.Gov. You can also apply for a protection order on someone else’s behalf; like if a minor needs assistance. A clerk of the court will assist you in completing the necessary forms and then take you before a magistrate who will determine whether to grant an interim protection order or not. A protection order is valid for life and is enforceable throughout South Africa.
Keep a network of people you trust in the loop at all times. Confide in family and friends about what is happening. Know that you are not alone. Document all the evidence like bruises and injuries by going to the doctor and taking pictures. Once you open a case, the more evidence you have against the abuser, the better.
Many victims feel guilty about reporting their loved ones for domestic violence, but remember that someone who loves you doesn’t hurt you.
It is imperative to have a plan in place for when anything goes wrong; iER is that safety net.
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iER offers members three different plan options.
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