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Know the different types of abuse

If you are in an abusive relationship or a child in your care is being abused, you can take steps to protect yourself or the child by approaching the courts or reporting the matter to the South African Police Service.

The Domestic Violence Act gives victims of domestic violence the maximum protection the law can provide. Abuse occurs in different ways and it is vital for women to understand the different types of abuse to protect themselves.

Domestic violence occurs when a person is subjected to:

Physical abuse: for example, when you are assaulted or threatened with violence.

Sexual abuse: When a victim is raped or forced to perform or watch humiliating sexual acts.

Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse: This occurs when a person is subjected to constant insults, ridicule or name-calling.

Economic abuse: This can happen when a victim is prevented from earning an income.

Intimidation: An example of intimidation is when a victim receives threatening and fearful messages or SMSes.

Harassment: for example can be in the form of repeatedly receiving phone calls or being constantly watched which causes victims to be afraid.

Stalking: This happens when your abuser repeatedly follows you or demands to talk to you against your will.

Damage to property: An example is when your abuser intentionally damages your property without your consent.

Any other controlling or abusive behaviour that causes you harm or threatens your safety, health or well-being is abuse.

The person abusing you can be anyone you have a domestic relationship with by blood, marriage or adoption. This includes your spouse, live-in partner, adoptive parent or child, housemate or family member. It may also be someone you used to date or you were engaged to.  

If you are being abused or suspect that someone is being abused call:

  • Police on 10111
  • Childline on 0800 055555
  • Stop Women Abuse Hotline on 0800 150 150
  • Lifeline on 0861 322 322 or (021) 461 1111.

This information was supplied by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.