[Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on domestic violence which some readers may find disturbing.]
If you decide to file a domestic violence complaint, a Protection Officer (PO) is generally the first point of contact for you. Anyone, including someone you know, can visit, call, or write to a Protection officer in your district or an area nearby to complain against the violence and seek protection. To find a PO, you can:
- Go to the nearest police station and ask them to put you in touch with a PO.
- Call or go to the Department of Women and Child Development in your district.
- Approach the National/State Women Commission. A state-by-state list of Protection Officers is available here.
- Approach an NGO or a service provider.
Your complaint will be written down by the PO and you can ask for a free copy of this complaint to keep with you. Protection officers will help you1:
File a complaint
The PO will help you file a Domestic Incident Report 2(DIR) which is a special report for cases of domestic violence which will have all the details of the harasser(s), the details of the victims, etc. They will also help you file a direct complaint with the Court and assist you in getting legal support.
Give Information to the police
The PO will forward a copy of the DIR as well as a copy of the medical report, if you were medically examined, to the police station located within the area where you faced violence. After this, the police will look into the matter and stop the harasser(s) from committing any acts of violence towards you2.
Provide immediate protection and support
The PO will help:
- Prepare a safety plan for you which will specify the measures required for your safety, and the orders you are seeking from the Court.
- Get you and/or your child medical aid from a medical facility in case you have any injuries.
- Put you in touch with service providers who will assist you with legal support, counseling, medical facilities, shelter homes, etc.
Inform you of your legal rights
The PO will discuss with you the different kinds of domestic violence with you to understand what you have been through. This will be recorded in the DIR. Afterwards, the PO will inform you of the rights and remedies you are entitled to under the law after filing a complaint.
Support you through Court processes
Protection Officers will:
- Help you gain access to free legal aid through the District Legal Aid Services Authority.
- Ensure that you and your children are not victimised or pressurised during the Court proceedings by the harasser.
- Section 9, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
- Section 5, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.