Anonymous from Gelvandale wrote: I have been married for three years now and about a year ago my husband started physically abusing me. Over time the beatings got worse.
I want to know what I can do to protect myself and my one-year- old daughter from this man. I do not see divorce as a option as I am certain it will not prevent him from finding me and doing worse damage as a result.
I need more extreme measures, legal measures which will ensure my safety. I pray that you will be able to provide me with some advice.
Eastern Cape regional communications practitioner for Legal Aid South Africa, David McGlew took the time to advise Anonymous
The question from anonymous is of concern.
Some organisations advise that anyone in an abusive relationship should develop a crisis plan that will assist in getting out of a violent situation. For instance:
Have a list of emergency numbers you can call
Arrange for a safe place you can go to or telephone from for help
If you have children always take them with you when you decide to leave the common home
Keep a bag packed for yourself and your children
Ensure that you always keep your identity documents, bank cards, medical aid card and keys in a safe place which is easily accessible.
USING THE LEGAL SYSTEM
A criminal charge can be laid against the abuser. In addition to a criminal charge, the Domestic Violence Act 1988 provides a cost-effective remedy for victims of abuse. You can apply for a protection order. Initially an interim protection order is granted to the complainant. The court determines a return date for both parties to appear in court, on which date the court will hear both parties and decide whether or not a final protection order should be granted. A protection order sets out the behaviour that a perpetrator must refrain from. Once a complainant is in possession of such an order and it has been served on the abuser, a warrant of arrest is issued and is kept by the complainant. Should the abuser threaten or violate the terms of the protection order, the complainant hands the warrant of arrest to the police who may then arrest and detain the perpetrator and bring him/her before a court of law.
She/he can call our Toll Free Advice Line on 0800-110-110.
Other organisations are:
STOP WOMEN ABUSE (0800-150-150) which provides crisis counselling for women who have been raped or abused, advice and support for people wanting to support women in need of help, legal and other options available for abused women and rape survivors. It is run by Life Line.
Family and Marriage Association of SA(Famsa).
Famsa supports families through stressful situations. It offers counselling and education to strengthen marriage and other relationships in the family, assists with divorce, mediation, domestic violence, trauma and grief counselling .
Famsa has 27 offices around the country.
In the Eastern Cape they are in Port Elizabeth (041)585-9393.