Nothing is normal in our society as it meets the challenges of COVID-19 – but some things are made worse by the restriction of movements that quarantine brings. One of those things that ministers and church members need to be aware of is domestic abuse. International bodies like the United Nations have warned that DV cases are spiking during the period when abused spouses or partners are locked in with their abuser.
IN LOCKDOWN, SOCIAL CONTROL MAY BE HAPPENING BY MONITORING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION.
According to an Anglicare statement on DV and COVID “Heightened personal and family stress is not the primary cause of violence, but it is likely to increase its frequency and severity. Social isolation may limit a person’s contact with their support networks and place them in closer contact with the perpetrator of abuse.” Anglicare has put out an information sheet on how churches can help.
HERE ARE FIVE THINGS CHURCHES CAN DO
- Remind everyone in the church community of the realities of domestic abuse and where to get help: use the Diocesan information and resources
- If you are currently supporting someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, carefully check in to see how they are doing: make your enquiry general until you are sure the perpetrator is not in the vicinity.
- If possible, set up an agreed code word that can let a designated friend or pastoral carer know if they need help in an emergency – when police will be called.
- Be aware that social control may be happening by monitoring electronic communication.
- New disclosures or concerns about domestic abuse, should not be minimised as “just the stress everyone is under” – take it seriously and connect with professional support services.
For more information and for resources go to https://safeministry.org.au/domestic-family-abuse/