The impact of domestic violence

2013-09-10 00:00

OF late, I have been involved in a number of divorces where domestic violence is ubiquitous, hence I felt compelled to base this article on the impact of domestic violence.

One in every four women in South Africa is battered by her husband, partner or boyfriend. One out of every four women in South Africa is a survivor of domestic violence.

Statistics show that an abused woman stays in an abusive relationship for an average period of 10 years before leaving. Women tend to be battered an average of 39 times before getting assistance.

Why be another statistic? The law is there to help and assist you.

A lot of abused women do not see the point of reporting their abuser to the police. They think that it won’t stop them receiving an even bigger beating afterwards. However, the first step in helping themselves and the first step in the right direction is to report the incident to their nearest police station.

According to the Domestic Violence Act, Act Number 116, 1998, there is a duty to assist and inform a complainant of their rights. According to section two, any member of the South African Police Service must at the scene of an incident of domestic violence, or as soon thereafter as is reasonably possible or when the incident of domestic violence is reported, give the victim the right to lodge a criminal complaint if applicable.

Often, when a couple is in a domestic violence relationship, the children involved are also abused by the beater.

Why, as an abused woman, subject your children and yourself to this type of behaviour?

How do you protect yourself and you children?

• The first step: lay a complaint at your nearest police station.

• The second step: if it continues, get an interim protection order at your nearest magistrate’s court.

• The third step: if the battering continues after the interim protection order, phone your nearest police station.

The power is in your hands, so make the right decision before it hurts you and your children.

Jenna Brooks wrote: “If you have survived an abuser, and you tried to make things right. If you forgave, and you struggled, and even if the expression of your grief and your anger tumbled out at times in too much rage and too many words. If you spent years hanging on to the concepts of faith, hope, and love, even after you knew in your heart that those intangibles, upon which life is formed and sustained, would fail in the end … And, especially, if you stood between your children — or anyone — and him, and took the physical, emotional, and spiritual pummelling in their stead, then you are a hero!”

• Serisha Mewa is a professional assistant to Claudia Garella, who is the founder of Garella Attorneys, which specialises in the practice of law.

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