Domestic abuse, also known as domestic or intimate partner violence is sadly experienced at a high degree within South Africa against persons of all races, classes, gender, sexual orientation and ages.

Victims of domestic violence can include, but is not limited to, an intimate partner, a child, relative or any household member. Therefore, it can occur within heterosexual relationships and same-sex partnerships, to men and women respectively.

The Domestic Violence Act

Domestic violence is prohibited by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (hereinafter ‘the Act’), which by definition includes physical abuse or assault, sexual abuse (whether you are married to the person or not), emotional abuse, verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking (when the other person continuously follows or approaches you or a loved one repetitively), damage to property, entry into a person’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence or any controlling or abusive behaviour towards a person.

Domestic violence covers a spectrum of abuse

By definition domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse, but can include the following:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse;
  • Economic abuse;
  • Intimidation;
  • Harassment;
  • Damage to property;
  • Entry to the complainant’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence; or
  • Any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards the complainant, where such conduct harms, or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health or well-being of the complainant.

In the result, you have the right to apply for a protection order and lay criminal charges at the nearest police station or proceed with the issuance of a summons for divorce proceedings.

Speak to a Family Law expert

Our Family Law attorneys are compassionate and well experienced in assisting victims of domestic violence, getting them the legal help they need to stop the abuse.

For legal advice about Family Law, Divorce and Matrimonial Law

Juan Smuts             

Heyns Kotze           

Lizl Duval                



The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.