As you know African Mums in Deutschland support group and helpline is opened to assist all African women in Germany.
One of the most disturbing calls we get are those on domestic violence.
Women seeking to end this pattern of violence, women seeking to go to the police, women seeking to go to shelter(Frauhaus), women seeking to go to court for protection
But unfortunately it often happens that these perpetrators are left off the hook and their stories not believed because most women do not realize that they are complex rules in relation to what you can present as evidence. During a domestic violence allegation and most of the time women are frustrated and helpless and they often ask me. Why can’t they just believe me?
Like any type of legal matter, the court and sometimes the authorities that are supposed to assist will generally not simply accept your word as proof of what took place during your relationship.
Instead, you will be expected to present sufficient evidence to show that domestic violence took place.
We often advice that ONLY if it is safe to do so, then you should be gathering evidence and deciding which witnesses could help you to prove your cause of action. For this reason and more – it is always critical to report incidences of domestic violence to law enforcement.
Below are the type of evidence you can gather to prove domestic violence.
Medical diagnoses or injuries
It is important to visit your doctor or the nearest medical care provider once you have experienced any form of physical injury as a result of domestic violence. Most women are afraid to do so. Please this is a must!
You should tell the doctor what occurred for evidence purposes.
It is also important to take photos of injuries insist on receiving a medical report and records of injuries you sustained
You should keep track of any witnesses by writing down their names, their contact information, and what they know about your case.
Anyone can be a witness – a friend, a family member, children, an emergency room nurse, a doctor, a stranger who saw or heard the abuse, a law enforcement officer, etc.
Police report / Evidence
As mentioned above, it is always critical to report incidences of domestic violence to law enforcement.
Tapes of calls you may have made to the police can be subpoenaed
police reports for when you or a witness called the police can be used.
Please note because it is illegal to record anyone without their consent in Germany ask the police if you can record the interaction or call someone put them on speaker asking them to listen to your interaction with the police.
Make sure you make a record of when the police was called to your residence and ask for a report!
Picture evidence can be of enormous use. Here are some of the kind of picture evidence to use.
pictures of your injuries;
Picture of objects torn or broken by the abuser;
pictures of your household in disarray after an episode of domestic violence;
pictures of weapons used by the abuser against you.
It is helpful to have a personal diary or calendar in which you documented the abuse as it happened.
One thing that you can do to better prepare your case is to keep a log (or a record) of the details of each incident as the incidents occur. You can make a list of the date and time of each incident, what the abuser did or said, what actions if any you took, what witnesses or evidence you have, etc. This way, if you have to prove the pattern of events in court, you will have the information ready to give to the police or judge. You can also save any voicemails, emails, or text messages that are sent as further proof of the stalking/harassing behavior – as well as taking screenshots of any posts made on social media to preserve them in case the person who posts them later deletes them.
Practice telling your story
It is normal that with the language barrier and experiences one can often get nervous or overwhelmed when telling your story.
That is why It is important to practice telling your story. Even though you lived through the abuse, you may never have had an opportunity to sit down and talk about all of the incidents of violence in an organized, clear way. By practicing in front of another person or in front of the mirror, you may be less nervous to tell your story to the police/ social worker/judge/. Also, as you begin talking about it, often times you will remember new details
Tell your story in your own words and try to speak clearly.Try to focus on the relevant details of the incidents of violence, threats of violence, or any harassing or stalking behavior that you included in your petition.
When describing an incident where the abuser hit you, tell who you are reporting to especially if it is a judge, how you were hit, where on your body you were hit, how many times, what type of pain or injuries you suffered, if s/he used a weapon or object, etc.
If you are describing threats that the abuser made to you, don’t paraphrase the threat by saying, “S/he threatened to kill me.” Try to remember exactly what s/he said and give those details, such as “S/he threatened to slit my throat and throw me into the river.” In other words, be specific.
The more evidence you have, the better. However, even if you have no documents or witnesses, your testimony is evidence. Don’t be discouraged from pursuing your case if the “only” evidence you have is your testimony.