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Protect yourself from abuse

With the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign still underway, the spotlight is on the safety of women and children.

In line with this, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has shared safety tips for women who are in abusive relationships.  

Your safety plan:

1. Safety when preparing to escape

  • Develop an escape plan.
  • Get an escape bag, pack all emergency items and store the bag safely or keep it with a trusted person.
  • Secure an escape place that is unknown to the abuser.
  • Choose two rescue persons to alert whenever the abuse occurs.
  • Clear every room of all harmful/dangerous items.
  • If unemployed, find ways of making an income.

2. Safety during a violent attack

  • Quickly move to a low-risk area or towards an escape route. Stay away from places like the kitchen where knives and other dangerous items are usually kept.
  • Quickly raise the alarm.
  • Quickly grab your escape bag and escape, only when it is safe to do so.
  • If injured, ensure that you get medical help and ask your doctor to record your injuries or take photos of the injuries.
  • If sexually abused, ensure that you do not take a bath or dispose of any clothing item until all evidence is taken for DNA purposes.

3. Safety at your home

  • When you are not staying with the abuser:
  • Change door locks if the abuser has access to your house keys.
  •  Install or improve the security system in your house.
  • Ask people you trust to call you or the police if they see the abuser entering your premises.
  • Teach your children or domestic helper what to do if the abuser enters your premises.
  • When you are living with the abuser:
  • Avoid being alone with the abuser.
  • Teach your children or persons you stay with how to get help when a violent attack occurs.

4. Safety with a protection order

  • Quickly apply for a protection order.
  • If necessary, ask the magistrate not to disclose your new residential address, or to allow the abuser to enter your shared residence or part thereof, for example the main bedroom.
  • Upon violation of the protection order, quickly report such violation to the nearest police station. Go to the police with a copy of the order and the suspended warrant of arrest.

5. Safety at the workplace, school or in public

  • When the protection order prevents the abuser from entering your workplace or school:
  • Provide the head of security/your boss/shop steward/principal or any relevant person with the copy of the protection order and a recent photo of the abuser, if necessary.
  • Ask a colleague/school mate to accompany you when travelling to and from work or school.
  • Change your shopping routine or place.
  • Avoid being alone in public.

6. Safety and drug/alcohol abuse

  • If you have a drug/alcohol problem, you must:
  •  Quickly seek help from the relevant specialists or organisations such as SANCA 011 781 6410 or AA 086 143 5722.
  • Join a support group or participate in any healing programme.
  • Avoid taking drugs/alcohol.

7. Safety and emotional health

  • To protect or restore your emotional health:
  • Take a walk, drive, bath or do some physical exercise.
  • Go to church or pray.
  • Read an interesting book/magazine.
  • Volunteer in a community activity.
  • Talk to a person you trust e.g. pastor, psychologist, counsellor, etc.

8. Your emergency items are:

  • ID book, driver’s licence/passport.
  • Certified copy of protection order/maintenance number.
  • Medical aid, hospital/or clinic card.
  • Duplicate keys, taxi fee, or a bus/train ticket.
  • Cash or bank cards, e.g. ATM, credit or cheque card.
  • Old age pension or disability/child support grant.
  • Public phone card or alternative cellphone sim card.
  • Address and phone book with emergency numbers.
  • Birth/adoption or marriage certificate/antenuptial contract/divorce decree.
  • Essential clothing items.
  • Kids’ spare school uniform, books, reports, toys etc.
  • Essential medication, prescription.
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