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Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

Thanks to the dedication of 9 August as a public holiday, South Africans get to re-focus and recognize the strength and mettle of women, especially when times are tough. Whilst both males and females could be victims of domestic abuse, studies have shown that the large majority of such victims are female. Overcoming and moving away from an abusive and toxic relationship must rank as one of the most difficult yet powerful things a victim of domestic violence can do for herself. Here is A recent Domestic Violence Case

Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Domestic violence is described as an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship in order to control the other. The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological. If your partner is doing the following to you, pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting; threatening you, your children, other family members or pets; threatening suicide to get you to do something; using or threatening to use a weapon against you; keeping or taking your wages; puts you down or makes you feel bad; forcing you to have sex or to do sexual acts you do not want or like; preventing you from seeing your friends, family or from going to work, chances are high that you are in an abusive relationship.

Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. One of the major scourges which surround the evil of domestic abuse lies in the fact that societal norms dictate that we turn a “blind eye” to it. This is often compounded by the fact that the victim may very often go to great lengths to conceal the abuse for a number of reasons ranging from embarrassment to being in fear of her life.  Often abusers are most charming to the rest of the world, making it seem most unlikely that behind closed doors he could be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character.  Some of the myths around domestic violence are that domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife and therefore we should not interfere. This is not true as domestic violence affects everyone. Many women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Often men who abuse women also abuse children. Another myth is to criticize a woman for staying in the relationship and not leaving. The reality is that are many reasons why women may not leave. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused. For example leaving can be dangerous. In fact the most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave. Another popular misconception is to blame the act of domestic violence on the use of drugs stress or alcohol intake.

Domestic Violence Act, No. 116 of 1998 was introduced in order to address the high incidence of domestic violence in South Africa and attempt to protect victims by making provision for the issuing of protection orders. The Act provides protection for any of the following behaviour, which a perpetrator abuses, humiliates, degrades or violates the sexuality of a person. It also includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, verbal, psychological abuse, or economic abuse (i.e. unreasonable refusing to share money or selling or giving away household property).  Intimidation, harassment, stalking a person, damaging the property of a person or entering a person’s home without their consent will also come under the umbrella of the Act.

The Domestic Violence Act makes it a legal duty for the South African Police Service to help victims of violence. This includes helping them to find suitable accommodation and medical help. The Act allows for a peace officer to arrest any person who may have committed an act of domestic violence (without a warrant of arrest) and to seize any weapons from the premises.

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