Domestic violence and gender-based violence have, over the past few months, become household terms, but do we understand what they actually mean?

And does our limited understanding of these terms have the result that we are less able to identify and seek help for non-violent forms of abuse?

“Domestic Violence actually encapsulates other non-violent forms of abuse that happen within a household or family structure”, says Yvonne Wakefield, founder of The Warrior Project, an online portal with information and resources available to victims of domestic abuse.

“It includes emotional and psychological abuse, which can slowly and insidiously escalate over time, leaving the victim a shell of her former self and unable to muster the energy or confidence to seek help”.

“This is less easy to spot and name, and often the victim herself is not even aware that it’s happening,” she says.

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The Domestic Violence Act defines domestic violence as behavior that harms – or may cause imminent harm to – the safety or wellbeing of someone who is in a domestic relationship. It includes physical, sexual, economic, psychological, verbal or emotional abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property and entry into someone’s property without consent.

A domestic relationship is one between two people who are or were married; live or lived together; have or care for a child together; are family members; share or shared a home; or are or were engaged, dating, or in an intimate or sexual relationship.

“So the law protects victims of many different types of abuse, even if the abuse isn’t physical or violent,” says Wakefield.

Similarly, the term gender-based violence refers to a number of forms of violence and abuse, including psychological, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, based on a person’s sex or gender identity, whether in public or private.

This can include abuse between family members or within a household, but isn’t restricted to domestic situations.

Sadly, many victims don’t know that the Act is there to protect them, or how to use its mechanisms

The Domestic Violence Act requires a domestic relationship and is designed to cater for the particularities and nuances of domestic relationships

“Sadly, many victims don’t know that the Act is there to protect them, or how to use its mechanisms. This was the primary driver for the formation of The Warrior Project, which now provides easy access to information and resources including helplines and shelters,” says Wakefield. “In our view, someone who learns about her rights and the avenues available for help, is no longer a victim. She is a Warrior.” | @thewarriorprojectsa | #WarriorsStandUp

The Warrior Project is run by The Warrior Institute NPC 2019/364285/08 (PBO Registration pending)

SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Toll-free Crime Stop number 086 00 10111
GBV Command Centre Contact the 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll-free number 0800 428 428 to report abuse
STOP Gender Violence Helpline Tel: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#
South African Police Service Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line 0800110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination and Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse: 0800 150 150
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The Warrior Project FREE legal helpline for victims of domestic abuse: 0860 333 353
People Opposed to Woman Abuse(Powa), Tel: 011 642 4345
Child Welfare South Africa, Tel: 074 080 8315
Childline South Africa, Tel: 0800 055 555
Families South Africa (Famsa), Tel: 011 975 7106/7
Tears Foundation, Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#, Tel: 010 590 5920
The Trauma Centre, Tel: 021 465 7373
Thuthuzela Care Centres