n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Intimate abuse - a study of repeat and multiple victimisation

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



One cannot gainsay the reality that the South African Domestic Violence Act of 1998 entrenches many of the best practices for the effective handling of domestic abuse cases. Why then does intimate abuse remain endemic to South Africa? The various reasons and causes enumerated include inadequate social services and law enforcement interventions. However, the research study that informed the content of this paper points to the prevailing individual and social myths, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions as being a primary contributor to the unabated scourge of intimate violence. The research study evaluated the respondent's understanding of "abuse" and "violence" before looking at the respondent's belief of the proximate causes of domestic violence. Especially provocative was the lack of proper understanding of the issues displayed by many of the respondents and the ease with which "blame" for abuse was misdirected - to the victims. This finding was relevant to both the male and female respondents. Additionally, hitting, kicking, and shouting were described as neither violent nor abusive conduct. Interesting was the perceived role of family, friends, and the community in providing assistance and support to victims of abuse. The study concluded with an assessment of the male respondent's reaction to issues of power, control, and dominance. In the end, the study concluded that, despite scientific and technological growth, human rights and women's equality, attitudes to and the realities of abusive and violent conduct in the third millenium were not much improved from what they were almost 30 years ago. A fundamental challenge in dealing with domestic abuse is to resolve public and more importantly, private attitudes and beliefs to this heinous crime.

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