The prevalence and impact of secondary victimisation on the victims of domestic violence perpetrated by the South African Police Services in Durban, South Africa.
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In the present day South Africa, one of the country’s challenges is that of rising crime levels. Domestic violence is among the predominant crimes facing the country, however, many incidences of domestic violence go unreported to the police, or withdrawn before trial and are therefore uncorrected. Although substantial research conducted attributes non-reporting of incidences of domestic violence and/ or withdrawal of charges of domestic violence to factors such as the victims dependency on the perpetrator for financial support, insurance and shelter and avoidance of shame and judgement by the society, there is some research that indicates that victims of domestic violence experience secondary victimization when seeking help from the police. The current research aimed to determine prevalence of secondary victimization by the police when victims of domestic violence seek help in Durban, South Africa. The study also aimed to quantify the impact of the treatment victims of domestic violence receive from the Police system to the withdrawal of charges and to non- reporting of incidences of domestic violence in the future. In the quantitative study, the researcher used a questionnaire with a combination of closed and open ended questions to investigate the experiences that victims of domestic violence at Umngeni Community Empowerment Centre had when they reported domestic violence to the police. The study found that secondary victimization of domestic violence on victims of domestic violence which is perpetrated by the police when victims seek help exist. The study further found that experiences with the police influence the victims of domestic violence’s attitudes towards future help seeking. Although the police are not the cause and/ or perpetrators of domestic violence, their demeanors when dealing with, and treatment of victims of domestic violence play a very important role in encouraging confidence in the country’s justice system, which will subsequently see more victims of domestic violence coming forward to seek help, thereby working towards eradicating the problem of domestic violence. When victims have positive experiences with the police, and the entire justice system, it increases the likelihood of seeking help from the system the next time they need it. Monitoring of the measures that ensure that victims of domestic violence are treated fairly by the police need to be strengthened in South Africa to eradicate secondary victimization of victims of domestic violence by the justice system.