Our expert says:
Family law expert
PHYSICAL ABUSE: pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, burning, biting, stabbing.
VERBAL ABUSE: Putting you down, name-calling, yelling, belittling you.
SEXUAL ABUSE: Having sex with you against your will, making you do sexual things you don't want to do.
ECONOMIC ABUSE: Taking away your money, refusing to provide enough money for household expenses, not paying maintenance when he can afford to do so.
CONTROLLING YOUR MOVEMENTS: or keeping you locked in the house isolating you from family and friends, monitoring you phone calls.
ABUSING POWER: always claiming to be right, telling you what to do and making decisions without consulting you.
THREATS WITH GUNS OR KNIVES: attempting to scare or kill you or your children.
FORCED ENTRY: making uninvited visits, refusing to leave when asked.
STALKING YOU: following you wherever you go, phoning you all the time to check where you are.
SAYING THE ABUSE IS YOUR FAULT: pretending that he never hurt you, blaming all his problems on you.
ABUSING YOU CHILDREN: Verbal and physical abuse, sexual abuse, forcing your children to monitor your telephone calls or who visits you, using your children to steal.
DAMAGING YOUR PROPERTY: tearing your clothes, burning your belongings, destroying important documents, e.g. ID book/passport, damaging your furniture.
YOU CAN APPLY FOR A PROTECTION ORDER WHICH CAN PROTECT YOU FROM FURTHER ABUSE
A PROTECTION ORDER CAN PROTECT:
* Married, divorced or separated couples
* Couples living together (including gay or lesbian couples)
* Parents of a child
* Family members (including the extended family)
* People who are engaged or dating one another
* People who share the same house or flat (flat mates, housemates)
A PROTECTION ORDER CAN TELL THE ABUSER:
* To stop abusing you and not to tell others to abuse you either
* Not to enter the family home or your workplace
* To pay the rent or mortgage. Protection order can also stop the abuser from having contact with a child
* To provide money for food and other household expenses
A PROTECTION CAN TELL A POLICEMAN TO:
* take away the abuser's guns or other dangerous weapons
* provide an escort to fetch your things
WHERE DO I GO?
Go to the court where you live, or own a business
Or the abuser lives, works or owns a business
Or where the abuse happened
WHEN CAN I GO?
Ordinary court hours
Or over week-ends during emergencies
HOW DO I APPLY
Fill out an application form for the protection order. The clerk can help you or you can bring a legal representative/friend to help you. If you take the form to a women's organization they can also help you.The clerk will take your application to the magistrate. The magistrate will prepare a notice of the abuser telling him or her about the protection order. The abuser will be told to come to court on a particular day for the hearing. This notice is delivered (or served) to the abuser by the sheriff, or the police
WHAT HAPPENS IN COURT
Who must go to the hearing?
* Both you and the abuser must go to the hearing
* If the abuser doesn't appear in court on the day of the hearing, the protection order is granted
* If he does appear, the court hears evidence from both you and the abuser. Witnesses can also be called.
* When the magistrate has heard all the evidence s/he will decide whether or not to issue a protection order.
* If the protection order is granted, a copy is served on the abuser.
* You will also receive a copy of the protection order and a suspended warrant for the abuser's arrest.
* A copy of the order is also sent to the police station of your choice
WHAT IF I CAN'T PAY THE SHERIFF'S FEES TO DELIVER THE NOTICE
Tell the court and the State will provide financial assistance to you
WHAT IF I NEED PROTECTION URGENTLY?
Ask the court for an interim protection order. This order will give you emergency protection until the hearing.
WHAT IF THE PROTECTION ORDER IS BROKEN?
1. You must call the police and giver them the warrant for arrest.
2. The abuser should then be arrested or given a notice to appear in court.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE ABUSER?
* The abuser can be sent to prison for up to five years
* The abuser can be fined
* The abuser can be fined and imprisoned.
NB: ONCE THIS ARREST WARRANT HAS BEEN USED, GO BACK TO COURT TO GET ANOTHER ONE. YOU WILL NEED ANOTHER WARRANT IN CASE THE ABUSER HARMS YOU AGAIN.
HOW CAN THE POLICE HELP ME WITH A PROBLEM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
* If you report a case of domestic violence to the police:
* They will tell you about your rights and your options
* They can send a police officer to your home to protect you from further abuse. They can also take away the abuser's weapons if he is threatening you.
* They can help you find a shelter and counselling service.
* They can also help you get medical care.
* They must arrest the abuser if he does not obey the protection order
IF A POLICE OFFICE DOES NOT HELP YOU, YOU CAN REPORT HIM OR HER TO THE STATION COMMISSIONER. YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL POLICE AREA COMMISSIONER, OR THE OFFICES OF THE INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE (ICD).
Bertus Preller - Family Law Attorney
KWJ Inc - Cape Town
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