When Maria was 19-years-old, her mother passed away, leaving her little brother and her in their step-father’s care. Although he worked in another city, Maria’s step-father would return home at the end of every month after he was paid. Over the next six months, whenever he returned home, he would get drunk and try to force Maria to have sex with him. Maria fought him off each time. Eventually she was able to leave her step-father’s home and go stay with a friend.
Maria thought she was safe at her friend’s place, but one day, her step-father showed up and started to beat Maria. He hit her face with his fists, knocking her to the ground. After she fell, he began to kick her. Then the attack escalated, and he threw a brick at Maria, hitting her in the back. When Maria’s friend tried to stop him, he began to beat her as well. Hearing their screams for help, several neighbours intervened and were eventually able to restrain him.
Fearing for her safety, Maria went to the police and opened a criminal case of assault. Her step-father was arrested, but was later released on bail. After his release pending trial, Maria was advised to apply for a protection order against her abuser. Maria approached LvA for help with this process. LvA helped Maria apply for an interim protection order, made sure the order was served to her step-father, and accompanied Maria to her final protection order hearing, where the magistrate granted Maria a final protection order under the Domestic Violence Act.
LvA also assisted throughout Maria’s criminal case by following up with the Investigating Officer, working with the Public Prosecutor, and supporting Maria as she bravely testified in court. After a four-month trial, Maria’s step-father was convicted of “assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.” This conviction represents a huge win in a society where domestic violence is normalized and victims seldom secure justice.