According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least one out of three women in the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime making it the most widespread, but among the least reported human rights abuses. While men and children also experience domestic violence, women make up the majority of victims.
Although lockdowns and quarantines are essential to contain the spread of COVID-19, the flipside for women (or men) with abusive partners is overwhelming. All nations that have started to implement national lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, now report an increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases, and those are only the ones that are reported.
Defining domestic violence and/or abuse
Whenever a spouse, intimate partner or anyone else uses physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, harassment or stalking to control the behaviour of their partners, they are committing domestic violence. No one deserves to be abused, regardless of circumstances, and victims must know that they are not responsible for the abuse they suffer. The hardest thing for many victims is to admit to themselves that they are being abused or that they are in an abusive relationship. If not, they will remain with their abuser and in some cases even pay with their lives.
How to pray
1.Recognise: Pray for victims to admit to themselves they are in an abusive situation and that should the abuse continue or become more violent, it may harm them permanently or take their lives.
2.Validation: Pray for friends/family/counsellors to validate victims, help them recognise the true state of their situation and assist them in meaningful ways to come out of such a situation or relationship, as applicable to each situation.
3.Emotional abuse: Pray for those emotionally abused to find their confidence and self-worth in the Lord Jesus, rooted in Him even more day after day. Ask the Lord to silence the voice of their accusers in Jesus name and also the accusations of the devil.
4.Sexual abuse: Pray for those who are sexually abused, raped, indecently assaulted, forced into unnatural sexual practices, etc. Ask the Lord to shield victims from these assaults and for offenders to realise the seriousness of their actions.
5.Social abuse: Pray for those who humiliate or insult their partners in front of other people, or keep them isolated from their family and friends, control them when they go somewhere, restrict with whom they may go out, etc. Pray that abusers will face their own insecurities and deal with that, and for their harmful continuous suspicions to come to an end.
6.Financial abuse: If someone close to you controls your access to finances, keeping you financially dependent on them so that you are always having to ask for money, it is a form of domestic violence. (Domestic violence in this instance does NOT INCLUDE individuals known for bad financial habits, continuously falling into debt or gambling, or minor children living in their parent’s house.) Pray for those who truly suffer financial abuse to see a breakthrough in this area. Also, for the Lord’s provision for them for necessities like basic clothing, food, water, shelter etc.
7. Spiritual abuse: Spiritual domestic violence is when someone close to you prevents, abuses or diminishes your way of thinking or spirituality, to cause you to feel powerless. They may restrict you from voicing your own opinions about religion, cultural beliefs and values. Pray for people who are prevented from following the Lord Jesus, to read the Bible in their homes or listen to any sermons, go to church or worship the Lord. Ask for the salvation of their partners.
8.Physical abuse: Pray for every person in this time who are threatened, hurt or attacked in their own homes. Pray for them to escape such impossible situations and for their offenders to realise what they are doing and come to salvation in the Lord Jesus.
9.Escaping abuse: It is very difficult when a victim is restricted from having contact with anyone. It may happen that an offender deletes the victim’s social media accounts or contact numbers of family and friends so she will not be able to call for help. Pray especially for victims of violent physical abuse to put plans in place to escape their homes with their children.
10.Check in on friends/family: Many of us know friends or a family member who may now face a specific domestic violent circumstance in their homes during the national lockdown. Please be sure to keep regular contact with them, asking whether they are still doing okay. Remind them to DELETE their conversation with you after chatting, incase their offender checks their phones or computers without them knowing, which can result into further violence.
11.Offenders: No person is a natural offender. Pray for offenders to understand, face and deal with the realities of their own hurts regarding familial relationships. Pray for them to receive healing and deliverance from the pain of their past and to come into a fresh and renewed relationship with the Lord Jesus.
12.Reporting domestic violence & gender-based violence: If you, or someone you know is currently a victim of abuse during South Africa’s national lockdown, and fear for your/their life/lives, do not hesitate to call these numbers in South Africa:
- Reporting Domestic violence: 0800 150 150
- Reporting Gender Based violence: 0800 428 428 OR *120*786#