Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a huge problem in our society today, many South Africans see the Political views of Domestic Violence as gender-based violence, however Domestic Violence plays a massive part on gender based crimes.

Many people suffering from any form of domestic abuse either do not know that they can get help or they don’t know how to get help. In addition, the process whereby a person can get a protection order (Restraining Order) for domestic violence is not as user friendly as it is supposed to be.

 

When the Public firstly go to the Court for a Protection Order, the general/ common term they refer to is a restraining Order against someone.

People often wait for hours in long lines in courts to get an Interim Protection Order. Court has designed the system to be as easy as possible so that the general public can understand how to have one granted, however, our Firm has seen that the granting of the interim protection order is the simple part, the procedures after are a lot more complex and the final granting of an Opposed Domestic Violence Application can become even more complex.

 

Even though the Department of Justice makes available the relevant forms for people to fill out when applying for a protection order, many people do not know what to say in these forms or how to phrase it. Being the general public its difficult to phrase what has happened to yourself in a way which a Court would understand, as this is mostly the case, we do recommend that you contact our Offices for a consultation and be advised what your rights are and how to phrase the Application in such a way that the Courts will understand it.

 

The space provided in the forms are often too small and this results in people leaving many important details out. In addition their rights are not always properly explained to them, and people often don’t realise that applying for an interim protection order entails a hearing before the Magistrate and that in this hearing the Magistrate must be convinced that there is a pressing need to grant you protection in the form of an interim order.

 

As most people do not know this, they do not always present a compelling case before the magistrate and this ends up in an interim order not being granted immediately. If a matter is pressing and you have been abused would you not want a professional to place the facts out to a Magistrate?

 

Therefore, when applying for a domestic violence protection order, consider using a legal representative in making the application for a protection order and have your legal representative accompany you to court for your hearing.

 

THE LEGISLATION THAT GIVES YOU PROTECTION FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (as amended) is the law that deals with Domestic Violence and allows someone who is experience domestic violence to apply for protection from this abuse by way of a domestic violence protection order or interdict.

 

HOW DOES THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT PROTECT YOU?

 

It allows you to get a Protection Order against anyone with whom you are in a domestic relationship with and you are being abused. This protection comes in the form of a Protection Order (this is the “Restraining Order” or a preventative interdict), granted by the Court, against an abuser.

This is an extremely powerful Order, which allows the abuser to be arrested if he/she transgresses any of the terms set out in the Order. The Order will remain until overturned by a Court.

 

WHAT IS A DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIP?

 

  1. You must either be living with or have lived with a person in an intimate relationship, such as a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife. Same sex relationship also count as domestic relationships;
  • You must be in an intimate relationship with a person but not living with them, or had a relationship (ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend);
  • Members of your family or the family of your partner/husband will also count as domestic relationships;
  • If you are sharing responsibilities with anyone to bring up a child, you are in a domestic relationship with that person;
  • Anyone who thinks that they are in an intimate relationship with you (also can be related to stalkers).

 

WHO IS AN ABUSER?

 

This is anyone who is committing an act of domestic violence and who is in a domestic relationship with you. This person can be male or female.

 

WHAT IS DEFINED AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

 

  1. Physical abuse- slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, scratching, stabbing, burning or shooting are examples of physical abuse;
  • Emotional Abuse- shouting, calling you names, saying things that are harmful to your dignity and character, threats, blackmail;
  • Psychological abuse- This is similar to emotional abuse, but the effects are damaging to your mental state of mind and mental well being;
  • Verbal Abuse- swearing, name calling, shouting
  • Economic Abuse- This is when the abuser uses money or their financial standing to get you to submit to their wishes. They threaten to cut off any financial support to you unless you do what they want.
  • Harassment- this is similar to the Domestic Violence Act but isd governed by another act;

 

WHO CAN APPLY FOR A PROTECTION ORDER?

 

Anyone who has had their rights (mentioned above) infringed, and this includes Minor Children.

Anyone else who has a material interest in you, or is concerned about you can also apply on your behalf.

 

WHAT KIND OF TERMS CAN A COURT IMPOSE IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INTERDICT AGAINST AN ABUSER?

 

  1. That the abuser may not enter your place of residence. This can be the case even if you share a place of residence with the abuser.
  • That the abuser may not enter your place of work
  • That the abuser may not commit any act of domestic violence against you
  • That the abuser may not use anyone else to commit any act of domestic violence against you

 

CAN YOU USE THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TO PROTECT OTHER PEOPLE?

 

Yes! You can name the people you would like to also receive protection from the abuser, such as your children, parents, friends, or other relatives.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ABUSER DOES NOT OBEY THE TERMS OF THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INTERDICT?

 

You must report this to the police. The police will ask you to make an affidavit as to how the abuser did not obey the Protection Order (interim or final). Depending on whether you have the Warrant on hand or not you would have to approach the Court for issuing the Warrant and then to the Police.

For more information, please feel free to contact our Firm to find out any further information. Click on contact us, fill out your details and one of our staff members will contact you immediately.