Legal talk: No-one deserves to live in fear: You CAN do something about it

Lisa and her boyfriend have been living together for the past six months. It was all sunshine and roses in the beginning, but it suddenly changed when her boyfriend started to abuse her by getting violent and calling her bad names. He refuses to leave and bursts into violent rages when she tries to break up with him. With the current news on girlfriends being killed by their boyfriends, she is scared that it might happen to her and wants to know how she can avoid it.

  • Domestic violence is where one person is being harmed by another person while they are in a domestic relationship (for example, a couple dating each other, a married couple or family members).
  • There are various forms of domestic violence and include, among other things, physical abuse (for example, being punched or kicked) or emotional abuse (for example, being insulted or humiliated).
  • From the facts, Lisa is a victim of domestic violence and she has a few options available to her.  Lisa can report the domestic violence to the police to lay criminal charges against her boyfriend, for example, assault.
  • There is a duty on the police to assist domestic violence victims, for example, they must:
  • Give advice and explain the different options available;
  • Provide the victim with counselling, shelter and medical attention;
  • Investigate the complaint and collect any evidence in the matter, such as medical records, witness statements and so on;
  • Arrest the person who harmed the victim if there is a reason to believe that an act of violence has been committed;
  • Seize any dangerous weapons and firearms;
  • If criminal charges are going to be laid, open a police docket; and/or
  • Go with the victim to the house to collect personal belongings, for example, if it is indicated in a protection order.
  • Lisa can also approach a Magistrate’s Court in the area where she or her boyfriend lives, or where the domestic violence occurred to apply for a protection order against her boyfriend.
  • The clerk of the court can assist Lisa and provide her with the application form that must be completed, which indicates the following:
  • The type of domestic violence that occurred;
  • The actions that Lisa wants her boyfriend to stop doing to her;
  • The address her boyfriend is prevented from entering, for example, Lisa’s home and/or work address;
  • If the boyfriend owns a dangerous weapon or firearm, a clear description if it to enable the police to identify and remove it; and/or
  • Whether Lisa will require any emergency monetary relief from the boyfriend.
  • After Lisa submitted the application, the Magistrate must decide if enough reasons exist to grant an interim protection order.
  • If the interim protection order is granted, Lisa must take it to the police station who will assist to serve it on her boyfriend.
  • The interim protection order provides a return date for Lisa and her boyfriend to both go to court and provide reasons why the interim order should/should not be made a final order.
  • It is also possible for a person to apply for a protection order on behalf of Lisa, if that person has an interest in the wellbeing and safety of Lisa. If Lisa is older than 18 years, her written consent is required to allow that person to make an application on her behalf.

Lisa feels that it is pointless to involve the police and wants advice on what to do if the police refuses or fails to fulfill their duties?  

  • If Lisa is not satisfied with the services she received from the police, she can lodge a complaint with the station commander of the relevant police station or at the following forums:
    • Civilian Secretariat – for poor service delivery and non-compliance with domestic violence duties:
      • Tel: 012 393 2500/2/3
      • Website:
    • Centre for Service Excellence – for poor service delivery:
      • Toll-free: 0800 333 177
      • E-mail:

Did you know…

A final protection order remains in force until it is cancelled by the court.