Protection Orders and Domestic Violence

Before we dive into this topic, it is important to understand the differences between Protection Orders and Domestic Violence. It is also equally important to be able to understand the Legal Language.

The legal language you may find useful before reading this article:

  • Applicant – This is the Victim. This is the person who opens the case against another party
  • Accused – The party being accused
  • Respondent – This is another name for the Accused. This is the person who has apparently committed an offense
  • Minor – This refers to a child involved (usually under the age of 16)
  • The Clerk – This is the person who helps run the division in the Court. They assist you with any legal forms you may need to open a case. This is also the person who will give you feedback on any decisions made by the Magistrate 
  • Court – A Government building were victims and criminals go to seek legal help, guidance, justice, and punishment 

What is a Protection Order?

A Protection Order (Also known as a PO) is an Order of Protection, which is a piece of paper, that is issued by a Magistrate and states certain “rules” and guidelines that the Accused has to follow and abide by and, if they refuse or falter, a warrant for their arrest will be issued (depending on the severity of the breach)

This document is designed to stop and prevent violent and abusive behavior from occurring time and time again

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also known as Relationship abuse) is a consistent pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

I am being abused. What should I do?

If you are being abused, whether it be emotionally or physically, we suggest you file for a Protection Order. Not only is your safety at risk, but this type of behavior is simply unacceptable.

Abuse can be defined as:

“Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable”

We will guide you through the process below. Follow the steps carefully to ensure you don’t make double trips to the Court House because you forgot something

As mentioned before, a Protection Order is a piece of paper that is issued by a Court of Law.

As the Applicant in the process (the person applying for protection), you will need to provide the court with a number of details

This piece of paper (Protection Order) asks you to define the following:

  • The incident that took place
  • A small write up of the incident
  • The date and time (the more detail the better)
  • It will ask you to define the rules you want to be implemented

Examples of rules that can be implemented:

If you feel you need a Protection Order, you can request the following types of boundaries be put into place for your protection:

  • No calling or texting the Applicant (the Applicant being YOU)
  • No approaching the Applicant (you can put a physical restraint in place i.e the Accused cannot get any closer than 250m from you)
  • No sharing of information
  • Refraining from approaching your Work or Residential Address

Does the Abuser get a warning that you are trying to obtain immediate protection?

Once you have filled out all the forms necessary to obtain a Protection Order, you will hand those documents to the Clerk of the Court.

The Clerk of the Court will then hand your file into the Magistrate for him/her to make a final decision.

Two things can happen here:

  1. The Magistrate will grant you an Interim Protection Order which will give you immediate protection
  2. The Magistrate will deny your Interim Protection Order and will ask both the Applicant and the Respondent to appear in Court to hear both sides (this could be due to a lack of evidence or risk)

If you are granted an Interim Protection Order (option 1) this means the Magristate feels you have substantiated your claim enough for the need to be protected effective immediately.

At this point, you will receive a temporary document that states you have sought protection from a Court of Law.

The Respondent will then be contacted by the police via two means:

  1. Phone Call – via a phone call or SMS if they cannot be reached, asking them to come into the Police Station to be arrested and give a Formal Statement
  2. In-person – The accused will be physically served with documents and arrested in person

Regardless of how the person is contacted and arrested, the Respondent/Accused will be notified. This is a good thing as they have to be punished for their actions somehow

If the Protection Order goes through, does the Applicant get the Warrant of Arrest?

It is situational dependent. In some instances yes, the Applicant is physically handed the warrant of arrest to give them the ability to action it, should the time call for it.

However, should the Magistrate or your appointed Attorney feel that the Applicant may act with malicious intent (such as trying to get them arrested just because they are angry or make a false claim against you) then the Court will “side” with the Respondent and the warrant will be kept by the Magistrate at the court.

Thereafter, should the Applicant want to get you arrested, they would need to approach the Domestic Violence Court and have to present legitimate reasons as to why you need to be arrested

What grounds do you need in order to request a Protection Order?

In order to obtain a protection order and summon someone to Court to appear before the Magistrate, you would need to have some of the following behavior occur:

  • Obsessive Behavior (stalking, constant messaging and calling)
  • Evidence that you are being abused (physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually or financially)
  • Bank statements showing financial abuse
  • Proof showing someone is trying to implicate you (such as breaching their own protection order they got against you)
  • Someone has maliciously tried to prosecute you or get you arrested for a crime you haven’t committed
  • Constant threats
  • Stalking you
  • Watching you in their car
  • Parking outside or near your home (This is a form of abuse and intimidation)
  • Publicly humiliating you (such as telling a group of people you are an abuser, a sexual assaulter, making fun of your sexual orientation, and more) – this is a form of abuse

How do you get a Protection Order?

In order to obtain a Protection Order, you would need to approach the Magistrate court and do the following:

  1. Approach the Domestic Violence section of the court
  2. Request to speak to the Clerk of the Court
  3. Explain your situation and the reasons why you need protection
  4. Obtain a protection form
  5. Fill in all of your personal information and write what has happened to you
  6. Take it back to the Domestic Violence Court to have it submitted to the Court
  7. You then need to wait to hear if the Magistrate has granted immediate protection. If not, it is still okay. Either way, they will hear your side of the story
  8. SAPS will then go and serve the defendant and summon them to Court

How do I know if the Protection Order against me is being breached by the Applicant?

If you feel that the person (the Applicant) who got a Protection Order against you is in breach of it (breaking their own rules they want you to follow) then here is what to look out for:

If it is a physical protection order:

It means that you have caused  physical damage to a person (severe or not) whereby they have landed in hospital (beaten up, bleeding, broken bones) or have suffered severe bodily harm (bruises, scratches etc)

Ways to apply for the removal or amendment of a Protection Order:

  • If the Applicant claims you have recently abused them, you can provide evidence and an alibi as to where you were (you would need to have at least 3 – 4 occasions to present to the magistrate showing him/her that the Applicant is in breach of their own rules)
  • You can request the Doctor’s report and do a comparison between your hands and the bruises seen in pictures (your hands could be measured and it would show you couldn’t have been the one to cause harm)
  • If the Applicant claims they are so scared of you, they wouldn’t want to come into your space. If they intentionally put themselves in your company it means they are trying to provoke you. We suggest you take out your phone and start filming a video showing exactly what is happening
  • Inform you, Attorney, immediately should you have one
  • Take pictures if needed
  • Record conversations if needed

If it is a protection order to prevent you from sharing their personal information:

It means that the applicant felt you were handing out his/her address, cellphone number, and more with malicious intent to either defame them or have them served

Ways to apply for the removal or amendment of an Information Protection Order:

  • If you are still receiving the Applicant’s personal information it means they are trying to implicate you. Save it in your email as proof and inform your Attorney so that you can present it before a Magistrate
  • If you are accused of handing out personal information, remember, there always has to be proof. Consult your Attorney or take it with a pinch of salt. Remember, most Attorney’s do tend to come with scare tactics in order to get someone to back down or not arrive at court
  • If you receive calls from debt companies or people looking for the Applicant, keep a record of the call or preferably, record the actual conversation itself to put forward to the Court showing you refused to engage in the call

What to look out for if you don’t have a Lawyer/Attorney

When “going up against” someone else’s Attorney, be sure to do the following:

  • Get the Lawyers name and surname (you need to know who you are dealing with and it is always good to know which firm the Lawyer is coming from so that you can do your own research)
  • Research the Attorney (Are they an entry-level Attorney, do they help with Criminal matters, Family matters such as divorce or do they create contracts?)

NEVER EVER STAND DOWN – this is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It is a Lawyer’s “dirty” way of playing you and getting you to look like a fool.

If an Attorney/Lawyers asks if you want to stand the matter down, politely say no thank you.

Stand-down means:

The Attorney will tell you that you can go home or tend to your children and whilst you do so, they promise to inform the Magistrate that you were there, you did arrive at Court however you require a postponement because of a Family-related issue, etc.

What actually happens is YOU will thank them, thinking that they are being nice, considerate, and understanding, but really the Attorney will go in, stand before the Magistrate, and will claim they have no idea where you are

At this point, the Magistrate can proceed without you because you appear to have disrespected him or her when in actual fact you relied on the Accused’s Lawyer to inform the Magistrate

If you would like to find out more on ways to handle and identify abuse, we highly recommend you enroll in our online course which is centered around children

Please remember: At That Sassy Life Coach we are not Attorneys and do encourage you to seek proper legal advice, should you require it. We cannot be held liable

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