What is Domestic Violence?
Under the Malaysian Domestic Violence Act, domestic violence includes the following:
- (i) Willingly or knowingly placing, or attempting to place the survivor in fear of physical injury;
- (ii) Causing physical injury to the survivor by such an act that is known, or ought to have been known would result in physical injury;
- (iii) Compelling the survivor by force or threat to engage in any conduct or act, sexual or otherwise, from which the survivor has a right to abstain;
- (iv) Confining or detaining the survivor against the survivor’s will; and
- (v) Causing mischief or destruction or damage to property with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause distress or annoyance to the survivor.
How Can I Get Protected From Domestic Violence?
- Lodge a police report at the nearest police station against the offender. Make a written report of all acts of violence committed and provide as much evidence as possible, which can come from a variety of sources (e.g. eyewitness accounts, medical reports and recordings of abusive telephone messages).
- Apply for an Interim Protection Order (IPO) if you fear for your safety. With the certified documents provided by the police, go to the Department of Social Welfare (Malay: Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat) in your district. The officers will help you make the application with the Magistrate’s Court. The IPO must be served within seven days.
- (Seek medical treatment at the One Stop Crisis Centre at major general hospitals (URL: http://www.awam.org.my/services/resources/ ).
- (Seek temporary shelter (URL: http://www.awam.org.my/services/resources/ )
- Reach AWAM at 03 7877 4221 or your nearest women’s NGO for help and guidance. Our Telenita helpline is available for counselling and legal support.
What Are The Ways To Help A Survivor?
- If you happen to know a friend or family member who is being abused, do not hesitate to lodge a police report or a complaint at the nearest Department of Social Welfare. In any case, act as quickly as possible as the abuse tends to worsen over time if no action is taken, and may result in serious injury or death.
- In the process, offer the survivor ample support and concern. The most important thing is to offer a listening ear free of judgment, to respect the survivor’s choices, to believe what they say, and direct them to services for survivors. Do not try to diagnose or blame the survivor, or pressure them into making decisions.
What Will Happen After I Get An IPO?
- An Interim Protection Order (IPO) is an order restraining the aggressor, valid for 12 months and renewable for a further 12 months. It grants you the right of exclusive occupation of the home regardless of whether it is jointly or solely owned or rented, as well as an order to prohibit the aggressor’s entry to your school or workplace. Any other order that may be required for your safety will also be covered under the IPO.
Myth Vs. Reality
- Myth 1: Domestic violence is rare and affects only a small percentage of Malaysians.
- Reality: In the year 2014 alone, there has been 3673 reported cases of domestic violence. According to a study by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 39% of women above 15 years of age have experienced domestic violence. Most cases, however, go unreported due to the societal stigma surrounding domestic violence, so the actual figure may be higher. Regardless, domestic violence is a prevalent issue in Malaysia and should be addressed right now.
- Myth 2: Domestic violence only involves physical violence.
- Reality: Domestic violence includes forms of violence such as emotional abuse, financial coercion and sexual abuse as well. According to statistics from the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), more than 95 per cent of victims were abused physically and psychologically, 52 per cent financially, 49 per cent socially and 35 per cent sexually. From a legal standpoint, the Malaysian Domestic Violence Act covers confining or detaining the survivor against the survivor’s will; and causing mischief or destruction or damage to property with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause distress or annoyance to the survivor.
- Myth 3: Domestic violence victims are always women.
- Reality: According to 2014 domestic violence statistics, 2715 complainants were female followed by 958 male victims. While it is true that women suffer disproportionately from domestic violence, men can be victims of domestic violence too. Being a survivor of domestic violence does not diminish or undermine one’s masculinity, and there is no shame in stepping forward as a domestic violence survivor.
- Myth 4: If it were that bad, the victim would just leave.
- Reality: Domestic violence is often a complex issue without solutions as clear-cut as just leaving one’s partner. In most cases, issues of financial dependence, lack of a social support circle and emotional attachment may hinder one from leaving their abusive partner. It is important to withhold blame or judgment from the victim, who is in need of support and encouragement.
- Myth 5: Domestic violence is a private issue between two spouses.
- Reality: Domestic violence ceases to be a private issue when the rights of one party is violated against their will. When the victim’s rights are violated, the issue becomes a legal/societal one, and action must be taken to protect the victim.