There are various forms of Gender-based Violence (“GBV”) that can take place within a domestic relationship or in any other type of situation. The following table lists some of the main types of violence in relation to GBV. Although it is possible to obtain a protection order, it is also possible to lay criminal charges in some instances. Every matter will have to be assessed to establish whether criminal offences are applicable or not, however, it is important to keep this in mind when reporting any form of GBV.

Types of violence:

Definition and example:

Physical abuse

Any act or threatened act of bodily injury towards someone.

For example, punching, slapping, kicking, stabbing, choking and so on.

Related criminal offences include:

  • common assault;
  • assault through threats; and
  • assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse

Degrading or humiliating conduct towards someone to cause emotional and psychological pain.


  • Repeated insults or name calling.
  • Repeated threats to cause emotional pain.
  • Repeated display of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, which constitute a serious invasion of a person’s privacy, freedom, human dignity and security.

Related criminal offences include:

  • Crimen iniuria.

Sexual abuse

Conduct of a sexual nature without the consent of the complainant.

Examples and related criminal offences:

  • Rape: sexual penetration of a complainant without his/her consent.
  • Sexual assault: sexual violation of a complainant, which includes direct or indirect contact between the genital organs of one person and any body part of the complainant.
  • Flashing: for example, the exposure of the genital organs of any person to the complainant without consent.
  • Compelled rape or sexual assault: where one person forces another person to rape or sexually assault the complainant.

Economic abuse

The unreasonable withholding or removal of money or property to which a complainant (in a domestic relationship) is entitled to under law.


  • The unreasonable refusal to provide monies for groceries.
  • The unreasonable disposal of household property in which the complainant has an interest in or the use of a joint bank account for personal use without the complainant’s consent.

Intimidation, harassment or stalking

Unreasonable and repeated conduct that induces fear of harm to a complainant.


  • Repeatedly following and watching the complainant, or loitering outside of or near the house, workplace or other building where the complainant may be.
  • Repeatedly making unwanted telephone calls or getting someone else to make telephone calls to the complainant.
  • Repeatedly sending unwanted e-mails or text messages to the complainant.
  • Threats of violence or death towards the complainant.

Related criminal offences:

  • trespassing;
  • intimidation.

Damage to property

The intentional damaging or destruction of property that belongs to the complainant. This is a criminal offence.


  • breaking into the complaints house;
  • in relation to the GBV, damage to the complainants’ clothes or other property.