Domestic Violence

Empower yourself and others by learning about what domestic violence is and how to apply for a protection order.


Domestic violence and abuse, as with rape, is not the victim's fault. No-one deserves abuse. If someone like a spouse, partner, sibling or child or anyone else is being abused, they should seek help.

Note: A person should speak to family members or friends that they trust about their abuse. Remember that an abused person is not alone, and that help is available.

If a person or somebody that they know is a victim of domestic violence they may:

  1. Apply for a protection order at the nearest police station or magistrate's court; or
  2. Lay a criminal charge at the police station and apply for a protection order.

Note: Both men and women can be perpetrators or victims of domestic violence. A man is no less a man, if he has been abused; likewise, a woman is no less a woman, if she has been abused.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects men, women and children. It comes in various forms such as:

  1. Physical abuse;
  2. Sexual abuse;
  3. Emotional, Verbal and psychological abuse;
  4. Economic abuse;
  5. Threats;
  6. Harassment; and
  7. Damage to property.

Physical Abuse:

This happens when a person is being harmed physically through acts such as :

  • Beating, slapping, punching, kicking, strangling, biting; or
  • Assault with objects, guns, knives or any other dangerous weapon.

Sexual Abuse:

This happens when a person is being harmed sexually through acts such as :-

  • Rape, attempted rape, indecent assault; or
  • On-going verbal abuse with sexual insults such as bitch, whore, slut, etc.

Emotional, Verbal and Psychological Abuse:

This happens when a person harms the victim intentionally by trying to hurt their feelings or make them feel bad about themselves through acts such as:

  • Constant insults, ridicule or name calling; or
  • Repeated threats of violence or death to cause emotional pain.

Economic Abuse:

This happens when a person harms or manipulates the victim financially in order to control their behaviour through acts such as:

  • Selling of shared property e.g. The matrimonial house with the forcefully obtained consent of the victim;
  • Accessing a joint bank account for personal use with the forcefully obtained consent of the victim; or
  • Refusing to give them money unless they agree to stop meeting their friends.


This happens when a person harms the victim by threatening to hurt or harm the victim, their friends, their family, their children or their pet. This often happens through acts such as:

  • Sending written or verbal death threats to the victim; or
  • Sending beheaded dolls, small coffins, dead flowers or dead pets to the victim.


This happens when a person invades the privacy of the victim in a threatening manner through acts such as:

  • Repeatedly watching the victim outside or near their house, workplace, school or business premises or any place where they happen to be; or
  • Repeatedly phoning the victim or causing any other person to phone her whether or not the caller speaks to the complainant.

Damage to Property:

This happens when a person destroys the property or belongings of the victim on purpose. This often takes the form of:

  • Breaking the window to gain entry into the victim’s house; or
  • Cutting, breaking or damaging in any other manner shared furniture.

Unauthorised Entry into the Victim’s Residence may include using a duplicate key to gain access and may also constitute domestic violence.

Protection Orders

A Protection Order is an order from the court telling an abuser to stop the abuse. It can order the police to take away any dangerous weapons from the abuser. It can also order the police to go with someone to collect their belongings if they are scared. The protection order can even force the abuser to provide the abused with money to survive.

Note: A person can get a protection order against anyone who has committed any of the above acts and regardless of whether they live with the abuser or the nature of their relationship.

Application for a protection order 

If someone feels that they are a victim of any act of domestic violence as listed above, they should approach the local Magistrate Court and request assistance in bringing an application for a Protection Order.

They will then have to follow the following procedures:

  1. Filling the Application form - The person should include their own details, as many details as possible about the abuser, the reasons for the urgency of the problem, the type of protection that the victim wants and the kind of abuse that they suffered from.


  1. Temporary order - If the magistrate is satisfied, they will offer the victim a temporary protection order until the date that they have to appear in court. If the magistrate is unsatisfied, the victim will not be protected until the day that they have to appear in court.


  1. The court date - The magistrate will listen to both the abuser and the victim on the day. Evidence, such as photographs, abuse marks and messages, should be brought to court. The magistrate will then decide whether the victim is deserving or not of a final protection order.

Note: A person may report an abuse and seek a protection order on behalf of a victim.

After receiving a protection order 

A person must always remember to keep a copy of their Protection Order in a safe place - they may give copies to trusted friends and family members too. The court or police must give a copy of the Protection Order to the abuser. The victim should deliver a copy of the protection order to their nearest accessible police too.

If the abuser does not pay the protection order

If the abuser goes against the protection order, then the victim must:

  • Go to the police station immediately with the Suspended Warrant for Arrest or call the police on 10111;
  • Tell the police how the abuser has broken the conditions of the Protection Order.

The police will then charge him for breaking the Protection order which is a sentence of up to 5 years of imprisonment, a fine, both or a notice to appear in court. If the victim is in imminent danger, the police may arrest the abuser without the warrant.

Note: Once arrested, the abuser will face criminal charges and be tried in a Criminal Court for breaching the Protection Order.


The victim should make sure that:

  1. They can identify places where they can use a telephone quickly and easily.
  2. They have a list of emergency numbers with them always;
  3. They give a copy of the protection order and/or warrant of arrest to the  people that they usually visit or their family members;
  4. They have some money in a safe and accessible place so that they can take a taxi or bus in case of an emergency;
  5. They have an extra set of keys for the house or car; and
  6. If they are planning to leave, they should leave when the abuser is not around and take their family with them; and
  7. They always have their essential documents like IDs, their medical aid card and their bank card.

Note: Although the family might be a private sphere, domestic violence is not an experience to go through alone. It might be scary to take action against an abuser, but it is necessary.

Emergency Contact Numbers

The following numbers are available for those in emergencies; do not hesitate to call at any time of day!

  1. Lifeline: 082 231 0805
  2. Stop Gender Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150
  3. Childline: 0800 055 555
  4. Flying Squad SAPS: 1 0111
  5. Rape Crisis: Nationwide: 021 447 9762
  6. Cape Town: 083 222 5158
  7. Khayelitsha: 083 222 5161
  8. Somerset West: 083 484 9409
  9. Stellenbosch: 083 484 9409
  10. SA Depression and Anxiety Group: 011 262 6396
  11. Safeline: 0800 035 553
  12. Carehaven: 082 990 4579

Note: Although the family might be a private sphere, domestic violence is not an experience to go through alone. It might be scary to take action against an abuser, but it is necessary.