Domestic violence is the term used when a person in a household abuses another person with whom he or she is living. It occurs between people who are in a relationship with each other. These relationships include married couples, dating couples, ex-partners, children, and members of the same household.
Domestic violence occurs on a daily basis but people are still afraid to talk about it. There are also many wrong perceptions regarding domestic violence. These include the perception that domestic violence is a family problem and should be treated as a private matter.
There is also a perception that domestic violence happens only to certain kinds of people. The truth is that domestic violence can happen to anyone.
Forms of domestic violence include physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and economic abuse.
How to get out of an abusive relationship
- An abused person needs to acknowledge that he or she is in an abusive relationship and that it is not his or her fault.
- Get help. Talk to family members or friends or go to the police.
- Contact advisory centres or support groups in your area. You can get their details at the police station.
- If you have no place to go to, you can apply to move into a shelter.
- Get a protection order.
To get a protection order, an abused person must apply at the magistrate’s court nearest where he or she lives or works or where the abuser lives or works. You go to court on two separate days. The first time is when you make an application for a protection order. The magistrate will give you a temporary order. A return date will be set and you have to go back to the court for the second time. The abuser is also called to appear in court on this day.
The process is as follows:
- You go to the magistrate’s court and apply for a protection order.
- Take with you any documents like medical reports, photographs of the injuries, supporting affidavits from family members, neighbours or children who know about the abuse. You must also take your Identity Document and details of the abuser, such as his or her work address and home address.
- The magistrate will listen to your story and read any affidavits that you have brought with you. The magistrate will then give you a temporary protection order, if he or she considers this appropriate.
- You can also ask the magistrate:
– To have the abuser’s firearm taken away if he or she has threatened you with it.
– For the police to come with you to collect your belongings at your home.
– For the abuser to be evicted from the home you share.
- The sheriff of the court or the police will serve the protection order on the abuser.
- The protection order tells the abuser that he or she must be at court on a date written on the protection order.
- You must go to court on the date written on the protection order. The abuser should also be there.
- Both of you will get an opportunity to tell the magistrate your side of the story.
- After hearing both sides, the magistrate will decide whether to make the temporary protection order a final order or set it aside.
- If the abuser does not come to court, the magistrate will make the temporary order a final order.
- If the magistrate makes a final order, he or she will also issue a conditional warrant of arrest in respect of the abuser. This means that the police will arrest the abuser if he or she violates the protection order.
- The clerk of the court serves the final protection order on the abuser. The clerk will also send a copy of the order and the conditional warrant of arrest to a police station that you choose. You will also get a copy of the order.
The order lasts until it is cancelled.