n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - 'Psychological' assault : the crime of assault revisited

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Currently, threats of violence in the form of words have been interpreted as constituting an assault where there is an inspired belief or expectation of a future physical attack. This article analyses Snyman's revised definition of assault with regard to the concept of 'bodily integrity' to establish whether severe emotional abuse cases, where there is no expectation of a future attack, can be brought within the ambit of the crime of assault. An investigation ensues into the nature of so-called 'psychological assault' and the meaning of 'bodily' harm with reference to case law in the United Kingdom. The premise of the article is therefore centred around whether an interpretation of the term 'bodily integrity' could include emotional verbal abuse as a form of assault, where there is no threat of a future physical attack, as a direct or indirect impairment of bodily integrity.

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