In South Africa, domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects many individuals regardless of age, gender, or socio-economic status. Understanding what is defined as domestic violence and who can be a victim is the first step towards seeking the help and legal protection of a domestic violence lawyer.

Domestic Violence Is Not Just Physical Abuse

Domestic violence encompasses a range of harmful behaviours, including emotional, economic, and sexual abuse, as well as intimidation and harassment. Anyone subjected to such actions, irrespective of their relationship with the perpetrator, can be a victim.

Both males and females can be victims of domestic crimes. Statista reports that in the 2022/2023 financial year, the most common type of domestic violence crime reported for both men and women was common assault. There were 51,683 cases involving women and 11,175 involving men. The next most common was assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, with 19,960 women and 8,294 men being victims.

What Constitutes a Domestic Relationship? 

The Domestic Violence Act in South Africa provides a broad definition of a domestic relationship. It includes married couples, people in a relationship akin to marriage, parents and children, blood relatives or family members related by marriage or adoption, and even people living in the same house.

This means that domestic violence is not limited to intimate partner violence. Children witnessing abuse, elderly people abused by caregivers, or individuals harassed by roommates are all potential victims of domestic violence.

Who Is Protected By Law?

In South Africa, the law provides protection for all victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Act ensures that it is possible to gain legal protection against an abuser. Once an interim order is granted and served on an abuser, in the event of further instances of abuse, the abuser can be criminally charged and arrested.

What Should You Do When Faced With Domestic Violence?

No person should ever remain silent in the face of abuse. Immediate steps must be taken to seek our courts’ protection by issuing an order preventing further abuse. Remember, harassment and domestic abuse can be life-threatening, and they must be dealt with before they reach that level.

Domestic violence is a complex issue that requires legal expertise. If you are experiencing domestic violence, reach out to Durban Law Offices. Our experienced domestic violence lawyers are dedicated to helping victims secure the protection they need and deserve.