Should I be in physical pain before I complain?
A lot of people are under the impression that domestic violence is limited to physical abuse in a domestic relationship. However, domestic violence can also include the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse, which includes threats, humiliating behaviour as well as repeated insults
- Economic abuse
- Controlling or abusive behaviour which poses a threat to your safety, health or well-being
You have the right to be protected against the above-mentioned abuse. You have the right to lay a criminal charge and obtain a protection order against the abuser. You as a parent, also have the right to apply for a protection order for your children. The protection order will order the abuser with whom you have or had a domestic relationship, to stop the abuse. You can apply for a protection order at your nearest police station or Magistrate Court.
Should the abuser disobey the protection order, the SAPS may be contacted. The abuser will be arrested if you are in immediate danger, otherwise the abuser will have to appear in court the next day to explain why he/she is acting against the order.
Violence against women and children is a serious problem in South Africa. Statistics have shown that 1 in five women over the age of 18 have reported that they have experienced physical violence at the hands of a partner. Statistics also show that 3 women are killed by their intimate partners every day.
It is also very important to have a crisis plan in place should you decide to leave your abusive partner. Make sure the following is in place:
- Make sure that people you trust, have a copy of your protection order and/or warrant of arrest.
- Always carry a list of emergency numbers with you, should you have to contact the SAPS for assistance.
- Have an extra set of keys for the house or car.
- Leave when your partner is not around.
- Make sure that you are in possession of essential documents like IDs and medical aid cards.
It is a very dangerous situation as the victim is usually too scared to leave due to threats from the abuser. The fact is the sooner you can get out of an abusive relationship, the better. No victim should wait for the abuse to escalate to a life-threatening situation.
Author: Raullene Marais