What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is also called intimate partner abuse. Domestic abuse can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, within a family or among friends.
Forms of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can manifest itself in different forms:
• Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, throwing objects, using a knife or gun to threaten someone, pulling hair, punching with the fist, etc.
• Sexual abuse includes forced sexual intercourse, being forced to watch or act out pornography, touching genitals by mouth, forcing sex by inserting a penis or an object into a vagina, forced prostitution, etc.
• Emotional abuse includes threat of harm, humiliation in front of others, limiting movement outside a home, etc
• Financial abuse includes being forced to hand over money, being prevented from earning an income, being forced to ask for money for basic needs, etc.
What causes domestic violence?
Domestic violence may start when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other. Abusers may feel this need to control their partner because of various reasons — low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, difficulties in regulating anger and other strong emotions, or when they feel inferior to the other partner in terms of education and socio-economic background. Some men with very traditional beliefs may think they have the right to control women because women aren’t equal to men. Victims of domestic violence can develop depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and feelings of helplessness.
PRACTICAL AND LEGAL SOLUTIONS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
You can take preventative measures to stop violence by applying for a protection order against the person abusing you. The Domestic Violence Act 116/1998 makes provision for a person who is being abused to apply to the Magistrate’s Court for a protection order. This is done on application and needs to be granted by a magistrate, if there is evidence supporting allegations of abuse. An order may be requested by anyone who is, or was, in a domestic relationship with the respondent (abusing party). An application for a protection order can be brought on behalf of the applicant by any other person with the applicant’s consent.