There’s no easy way to say this: being a woman in South Africa is a risky business. From being catcalled in the streets to being manhandled in clubs and bars to being ogled at the gym, there aren’t many safe spaces. Home and work are difficult to navigate for many women, too. According to Safer Spaces, an interactive platform that shares information about gender-based violence (GBV), between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical inter-personal violence (IPV) in their lifetime. Just about half of women have experienced the insidious but no less dangerous economic and emotional abuse by their intimate partners.
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What is abuse in a relationship?
Because abuse can take many forms, there is no one solution to empower women in abusive relationships. It’s for this reason that actress Nicole Bessick founded the Fight For Good Foundation, a multi-pronged approach to helping women who are victims of abuse. By reaching out to them via social media or through the website, women are able to access an array of services, including legal work, counselling and even business workshops. “Given that no two cases of GBV are alike, we cannot apply a ‘cookie-cutter’ solution,” says Bessick. “After analysing the individual case and the resources the GBV victim needs, we then outsource these cases to our expert team of attorneys, professional fighters, psychologists and business schools (depending on the case).”
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How does getting a restraining order work?
In their work, the Foundation released a series of videos aimed at giving women practical advice about what to do when faced with an abuser. In one video, Bessick and Nyaradzo Muzembe, a candidate attorney, share valuable tips about how to secure a restraining order, even if you don’t have your lawyer.
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To qualify for a restraining order, there are some procedures to follow. First, make sure you report the abuse at the police station by creating a domestic violence incident report. Then, the police officer will let you know of your rights and legal pathways. If you have nowhere to go, a police officer must help you find a safe place to stay. Then, the harm done to your body (in physical cases) will need to be documented via a J88 form. A medical doctor or nurse will conduct this examination. Together with your other documents, you can apply for a restraining order at your nearest Magistrate’s Court.
For a more detailed description of what to do, watch the video in full below. Find the Fight For Good foundation here.