By Sanette Viljoen
Domestic violence is not limited to that which you hear and see on the streets. It affects even the houses of the “elite”, professional people, poor and rich people. There are people you see in the world where you will least expect it, but when their doors are closed domestic violence takes place.
Everyone knows the term domestic violence, and everyone is especially aware of the violence against women and children, but what can victims really do about it? What are the remedies for domestic violence?
When is someone a victim of domestic violence?
- A person is a victim when he or she is abused by someone with whom he or she is in a domestic relationship.
What is a domestic relationship?
- A domestic relationship exists for example between family members, between a man and a woman, an ex-husband or wife and between people who are in a romantic relationship.
This abuse can also take on various forms. It can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or intellectual. It also includes intimidation, harassment, threats etc. All of this form part of the definition of domestic violence.
When a person is a victim of domestic violence, there are two remedies available to him or her. Firstly, such a person can lodge a formal criminal complaint with the police, of e.g. assault if there was actual assault or if there was threats of assault. Secondly, a person can obtain a protection order.
The purpose of the protection order is to prohibit the perpetrator from committing any act of domestic violence and further to arm the victim with protection against this kind of abuse.
The process of obtaining a protection order is very simple. Without the assistance of a lawyer you do not have to spend any money. The person can simply make his or her appearance at the Magistrate’s Court in the area where he or she resides and ask the clerk of the court for an application form. The form must then be completed immediately, and the clerk will assist the victim in taking an oath. This declaration merely gives the reason for why this complainant believes he or she needs protection against someone. After completing the application form and the affidavit, the complainant will appear before the Magistrate. This appearance is very informal in nature and the Magistrate will consider the matter. If the Magistrate is convinced that the complainant needs protection, an interim protection order will be granted.
An interim order is an order that is in force and is signed on the person who is suspected of committing domestic violence. This service can be done by the court or the police. The order will have a stop date when the complainant and respondent both appear in court, and then the respondent will be granted the opportunity to put his or her side of the story. Thereafter the court will consider whether the interim order should be final.