What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence Can Occur In Many Different Forms:


Controlling behaviour is a way for the abuser to maintain dominance over the victim. Controlling behaviour, the belief that they are justified and the resultant abuse is the core issue in domestic violence. Many women think that it is a reflection of the ‘love’ of her partner and do not realise that they are victims.

Monitoring phone calls, using caller ID or other number monitoring devises, not allowing the victim to make or receive phone calls.

Checking the car kilometers. Checking partners movements.

Not allowing their freedom of choice in terms of clothing styles or hairstyle. This may include forcing the victim to dress in a specific way such as more seductively or more conservatively than they are comfortable.

Calling or coming home unexpectedly to check up on them.

Invading their privacy by not allowing them time and space of their own.

Forcing or encouraging dependency by making the victim believe they’re incapable of surviving or performing simple tasks without the abuser or on their own.

Using the children to control the victim/parent by using the children as spies, threatening to kill, hurt or kidnap the children, physical and/or sexual abuse of the children, if the mother leaves the relationship.

Physical Abuse:

Physical abuse is any physically aggressive behaviour, withholding of physical needs, indirect physically harmful behaviour, or threat of physical abuse. This may include but is not limited to:

• Hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, shaking, pushing, pulling, punching, choking, beating, scratching, pinching, pulling hair, stabbing, shooting, drowning, burning, hitting with an object, threatening with a weapon, or threatening to physically assault.

• Forcible physical restraint against their will, being trapped in a room or having the exit blocked, being held down.

Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse is using sex in an exploitative fashion or forcing sex on another person. Having consented to sexual activity in the past does not indicate current consent. Sexual abuse may involve both verbal and physical behaviour. This may include, but is not limited to:

Using force, coercion, guilt, or manipulation or not considering the victim’s desire to have sex. This may include making the victim have sex with others, have unwanted sexual experiences, or be involuntarily involved in prostitution.

Exploiting a victim who is unable to make an informed decision about involvement in sexual activity because of being asleep, intoxicated, drugged, disabled, too young, too old, or dependent upon or afraid of the perpetrator.

Laughing or making fun of another’s sexuality or body, making offensive statements, insulting, or name-calling in relation to the victim’s sexual preferences/behaviour.Having affairs with other people and using that information to taunt the victim.

Withholding sex from the victim as a control mechanism.

Emotional Abuse and Intimidation:

Emotional abuse is any behaviour that exploits anther’s vulnerability, insecurity, or character. Such behaviours include continuous degradation, intimidation, manipulation, brainwashing, or control of another.

Insulting or criticizing to undermine the victim’s self-confidence. This includes public humiliation, as well as actual or threatened rejection.

Threatening or accusing, either directly or indirectly, with intention to cause emotional or physical harm or loss. For instance, threatening to kill the victim or themself, or both.

Using reality distorting statements or behaviours that create confusion and insecurity in the victim like saying one thing and doing another, stating untrue facts as truth, and neglecting to follow through on stated intentions. This can include denying the abuse occurred and/or telling the victim they’re is making up the abuse. It might also include crazy making behaviours like hiding the victim’s keys and berating them for losing them.

Consistently disregarding, ignoring, or neglecting the victim’s requests and needs.

Telling the victim they’re mentally unstable or incompetent.

Forcing the victim to take drugs or alcohol.

Not allowing the victim to practice their religious beliefs, isolating them from the religious community, or using religion as an excuse for abuse.


Isolation is a form of abuse often closely connected to controlling behaviours. It is not an isolated behaviour, but the outcome of many kinds of abusive behaviours. By keeping the victim from seeing who they want to see, doing what they want to do, setting and meeting goals, and controlling how the victim thinks and feels, the perpetrator is isolating the victim from the resources (personal and public) which may help them leave the relationship.

Isolation often begins as an expression of their love for the victim with statements like, “if you really loved me you would want to spend time with me, not your family”. As it progresses, the isolation expands, limiting or excluding their contact with anyone but the abuser.

• Some victims isolate themselves from existing resources and support systems because of the shame of bruises or other injuries, the perpetrator’s behaviour in public, or the perpetrator’s treatment of friends or family.

Verbal Abuse: Coercion, Threats and Blame:

Coercion, Threats, & Blame: Verbal abuse is any abusive language used to denigrate, embarrass or threaten the victim. This may include but is not limited to:

• Threatening to hurt or kill the victim or her children, family, pets, property or reputation.

• Name calling

• Telling victim they’re unattractive or undesirable.

• Yelling, screaming, raging, terrorising or refusing to talk.

Using Male Privilege:

As a SA culture, we accept the principle and privilege of male dominance, and men will continue to be abusive. SA tolerates violence against women, so men will continue to be abusive.

Objectification of women and the belief that women exist for the ‘satisfaction of men’s personal, sexual, emotional and physical needs.

• An entitlement to male authority with a right and obligation to control, coerce, and/or punish her independence.

• That the use of physical force is acceptable, appropriate, and effective.

Societal support for his dominance, controlling and assaultive behaviour. By failing to intervene aggressively against the abuse, the culture condones the violence.

Economic Abuse:

Financial abuse is a way to control the victim through manipulation of economic resources.

Controlling the family income and either not allowing the victim access to money or rigidly limiting their access to family funds.

This may also include keeping financial secrets or hidden accounts, putting the victim on an allowance or allowing the victim no say in how money is spent, or making them turn their wages/salary over to the perpetrator.

Causing the victim to lose a job or preventing them from taking a job. The abuser can make the victim lose their job by making them late for work, refusing to provide transportation to work, or by calling/harassing/calling them at work.

Spending money for necessities (food, rent, utilities) on nonessential items (drugs, alcohol, hobbies.)


Stalking during a relationship or after it has ended is high-risk behaviour. It is typically defined as the wilful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person, accompanied by a credible threat of violence.

Breaking windows, breaking into or vandalizing partner’s home

· Leaving things, such as flowers on doorstep or at work

  • Watching partner from a distance

  • Hang-up calls on the telephone

  • Following partner with a car or on foot

  • Hiding in bushes or other surveillance of partner’s home

  • Surveillance of partner at work

  • Stealing things from partner


Police duties towards domestic violence complainants These duties are set out in section 2 of the Act and include:

• Supporting complainants to find suitable shelter or obtain medical treatment

• Providing complainants with written information about their rights in the language of their choice

• Explaining the contents of the notice to complainants and informing them of available criminal and civil remedies

• Serving notice on the abuser to appear in court

• Serving protection orders

• Arresting an abuser who has breached a protection order, or committed a crime (even without a warrant)

• Removing weapons from the abuser, or from the home

• Accompanying the complainant to collect personal items from her/his residence.

If Survivor does not want to make a Case it is alright. Provide survivor with relevant legal and medical referrals and your number to contact.

· Encourage the survivor to keep records of the abuse. Take pictures of bruises, record or write down threats, diarize unwanted phone calls and visits etc.

· Assist survivor to come up with a safety plan. Pack a bag of emergency cloths. Also put all important documents like children’s birth certificates, ID’s etc also in the bag.

· Put aside some money in the bag as well as some airtime.

· Arrange for her to Let a neighbour know a signal from her means that her neighbour must call the police.

· Advise her to have a code word for her children to know when and where to run for help.

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