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.
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.”
www.thewarriorproject.org.za | @thewarriorprojectsa | #WarriorsStandUp
The Warrior Project is run by The Warrior Institute NPC 2019/364285/08 (PBO Registration pending)