According to Stats SA and the South African Medical Research Council, one in five South African women have experienced domestic abuse, making it the leading cause of death amongst women. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, you have legal recourse. Here’s what you need to know.

The law protects everyone

If you’re in a relationship with someone and they abuse you, the law protects you. It doesn’t matter what your gender or sexuality is, if you aren’t married, if they’re related to you or if you’re raising a child together.

It doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse

If a partner harasses, stalks and intimidates you or harms your property, it’s abuse. If they coerce you sexually, it’s abuse. If they threaten you when you try leaving or insult and undermine you, it’s abuse. If they withhold money or keep you from financial independence, it’s abuse.

Steps to take when you’re experiencing abuse:

  1. Apply for a protection order: Anyone can apply for a protection order, and you can even apply on behalf of someone else (with their written permission). Visit your nearest magistrate’s court or police station and ask to complete the necessary form.
  2. Fill in the form in full: Bring any affidavits, photographs and doctor’s notes with you and ensure you have a current work or home address for the person you will be serving.
  3. You’ll be granted an interim protection order which becomes enforceable when the person is served. You’ll be given a court date which you must attend. Remember to make alternative living arrangements if necessary.
  4. Arrange legal representation – you can request to be present at your court date. They’re instrumental when negotiating the terms of your final protection order if there are children, firearms or financial responsibilities involved.
  5. If the order is violated, the person violating it can be arrested. This might require another court visit and warrant.

Looking for legal representation? Then contact the Divorce or Family Law division of Ian Levitt Attorneys today.