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Legal Action Available to Victims of Domestic Violence

“Violence against women is an everyday reality, act now, always and forever before it’s too late”.


Domestic violence is one of the crimes against women which is linked to their disadvantageous position in Indian society. Domestic Violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied.

Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence. Any act of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, or the threat of such abuse, when inflicted against a woman by a person intimately connected to her through marriage, family relation or acquaintanceship, it is known as domestic violence on woman. The perpetrators of domestic violence have often been found to be the males and the victims, their sexual partners.

Violence against women

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal use to violence and while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe.

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the use of physical force against a woman in a way that causes her bodily injury or hurt. Physical assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force are also forms of physical abuse like beating, kicking and punching.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is also a form of physical abuse. Any situation in which a woman is forced to participate in unwanted, safe or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by spouse or intimate partner with whom she has consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence.

Emotional Abuse

Not all abusive relationships involve violence. Many women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked-even by the woman being abused. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse.

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is not a very recognized form of abuse among the women but it is very detrimental. Emotional abuse mainly includes a woman not been provided with enough money by her partner to maintain herself and her children, which may comprise of money for food, clothing, medicines, etc and not allowing a woman to take up an employment. Forcing her out of the house where she lives and not providing her rent, in case of a rented share hold also amounts to abuse.

Specific Provisions of law dealing with Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence in 1983 by amendments in the Indian Penal Code, but was not very effective in controlling the violence committed against the woman within the family or inside the house hold, therefore, the legislature enacted the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 to protect women from domestic terrorism.

Provisions under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Functionaries Appointed Under the Domestic Violence Act

  • Protection Officer-An officer appointed by the State in each district (possibly a woman). These officers are under the jurisdiction of Court and have specific duties of providing assistance in medical aid, legal aid, safe shelter to the victim and to the Court in preparing the petition filed in Magistrate’s office, called DIR. It is their duty to provide necessary information to the aggrieved on Service Providers and to ensure compliance with orders of monetary relief.
  • Service Provider-Any registered voluntary association with the objective of protecting the rights and interests of women by lawful means including providing of legal aid, medical or financial or other assistance and registered with the state government as well as a service provider for the purposes of this Act. It is their duty to approach and advise the victim of her rights under the law and assist her in taking appropriate actions.
  • Magistrate- A Court of First Class Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate would be the competent court and will be responsible for appointing counselors and welfare expert for the victim.
  • Police


Domestic Incident Report is a document that contains the details of the aggrieved person and the respondent (perpetrator) and their relationship. It also includes information regarding aggrieved’s children and their residence, specific details regarding the incidents of domestic violence, types of orders required under the Act and requirement of any assistance including medical facilities, shelter home etc.

Filing of Complaint under Domestic Violence Act

Under this Act, any aggrieved person (section 2(a) of the Act defines ‘aggrieved person’ as any woman who is, or has been in a domestic relationship with the perpetrator and alleges to be subjected to any act of domestic violence by the perpetrator) or any other person who has a reason to believe that an act of domestic violence has been, or is being, or is likely to be committed can approach a police officer, protection officer or a service provider. The concerned authority will take the complaint from the victim or will write for her. Complaint can be written in the prescribed format or can use her own words and language. Complaint can be made orally or in written form. The authority will also make a DIR (Domestic Incident Report) and will forward the copies to Magistrate, Police and the Service Providers. One can also directly file a complaint with the Magistrate.

Reliefs Available under Domestic Violence Act

  • Protection Order- Court order for protection of victim, her dependents and her property against the respondent.
  • Residence Order-Court order to restrain the perpetrator from dispossessing the victim from shared household or to order the perpetrator to leave the house.
  • Monetary Relief-Hold the perpetrator accountable for loss of earnings, medical expenses and destruction of victim’s property due to Domestic violence.
  • Custody Order-Court order to grant temporary custody of children to the aggrieved.
  • Compensation Order-Respondent directed to pay compensation to the victim for injuries caused to the victim due to mental and psychological torture.
  • Interim and ex-parte Order-Any other order that Court deems fit to pass.

Article by

Surpreet Kaur

Campus Law Centre, Delhi University.

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