Protecting Women and Children from Domestic Abuse
The Covid-19 lockdown has seen an unprecedented rise in domestic abuse across the world. The NSPCC have reported that contacts to their helpline about the impact of domestic abuse on children have surged by almost a third since the start of the lockdown, to an average of one an hour.
In the UK, national domestic abuse charity Refuge, which provides specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence, has noted that in the early stages of the lockdown, traffic to its website rose by 150 per cent and there was an average 25 per cent increase in calls to its national domestic abuse helpline.
Restored, a Christian charity that aims to end violence against women, has put together lockdown resources for victims of abuse, church leaders and men.
Supporting victims and survivors
Isolation is a tool that perpetrators already know how to use as a tactic to gain control. The lockdown can, therefore, appear to legitimise isolation and perpetrators will use it as a cover for abuse.
The police can help. If you are being abused call 999 and press 55; the police will recognise you may not be able to talk but can give you instructions. An alternative is Refuge’s national domestic abuse helpline, 08082000247. The charity can help you find specialist services, from a refuge to a lawyer, which you can find out more about on our website, at any time of day or night.
Our resources also provide more information on how to make you and your children safe. Children may not be the ones experiencing abuse, but getting to safety will be beneficial for both you and you children, who may be experiencing depression, self-harm or eating disorders.
Supporting church leaders
Domestic abuse is hard to see. Many women do not think they are being abused and perpetrators are good at hiding it. But there are signs you can train yourself to look for.
Restored’s Church Pack is a starting point to help you understand abuse, and our Covid-19 toolkit will help you apply this to lockdown. We have also arranged a weekly series of one-hour training sessions via video link. Email email@example.com to book a free place. Visit Teatime Talks for more information.
Prolonged periods in isolation and working from home will generate feelings of restriction and make nerves fray. These are not an excuse to take things out on others and find a scapegoat in your partner. These are times to take control, own your feelings and find ways of distressing. Our leaflet for men will give you practical advice on doing this.
For more information contact the Restored team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting Families During Lockdown
Two Families Ministers share their ideas and experiences.
Here in Combe Down Bath we have two quite different churches within a mile of each other. Both are focused on Jesus and both are lively; one set in the old village and one on the council estate. As an Associate Minister one of my responsibilities is for families across the whole area. In my role I have enjoyed co-ordinating all the usual toddler groups, family support schemes, parenting courses, home visits etc to meet their pastoral needs. All this has, of course, now changed.
When lockdown began I set up various WhatsApp groups to connect the parents of different aged children so they could share ideas on home schooling, creative projects, ‘how not to murder your child or partner?!’, textbooks and needs for prayer etc. Then I turned to the internet in order to be able to post and share good ideas! Well I nearly went dizzy – there was SO much stuff on there! What was good? What wasn’t good? Which ones would help point them to Jesus, enable them to share Jesus with their children through this difficult time? How could I help keep them walking with the Lord and encourage and support them through lockdown when I hadn’t got the time to have a proper look at all that was out there on the web?
Well, the NPI (the National Parenting Initiative) came to my rescue. They exist to support families in many ways and they have done the leg work for us. They trawl the internet and just post really useful, Godly, encouraging and helpful ideas for all families which I then share or forward or post accordingly. Such a great time saver and such great articles!
As time went on parents who were coping with working at home, home schooling, doing children’s church, achieving potty training success AND staying alive wanted to help other families. They realised that hard as it was for them, it was even harder for others who didn’t have internet access or a craft cupboard full of supplies. But they couldn’t go meeting other parents down at the park to give out craft stuff and printed resources. So we came up with a solution. The parents who can help print out resources, often signposted to them by the NPI, then collect excess craft supplies from their home (or even get new stuff delivered), as well as educational resources, and books and games. I collect them and then every two or three weeks, when I deliver food from the Fareshare scheme, I also give out all kinds of resources for the families that need them in our parish. The ones who give feel the Lord’s favour and those who receive are blessed! A great combination. Thank you Lord!
Sharon Blair is Associate Minister at Holy Trinity Combe Down in Bath
As we settle into these days of social distancing and lockdown, as a church we are identifying how we can continue to support and equip our church family and to reach out to the wider community. Thanks to the wonders of Zoom and other platforms we can meet from our homes. Here is one of our initiatives to support children and families who are part of Gordano Valley Church:
For the past 3 years we have had a popular ‘Teatime Hangout’ group, which has met fortnightly in homes, for children up to 11(ish!) and their families. As soon as we stopped meeting in person, we moved this group to Zoom and have been meeting weekly. The first week was chaos because the parents were trying to talk to each not giving the children a look in! The mayhem of adults talking over the children birthed ‘Parent Hangout’ which is an opportunity for parents to chat, once the children are in bed, and share the joys and frustrations of family life during lockdown.
We have had to accept that Zoom does not work for everyone. Some of our children, particularly those with additional needs, have really struggled to cope with interacting on Zoom and their parents have decided not to join in. Others are finding that they are spending too much time using screens at other times or that their new ‘norm’ means that their routine is more fluid. However, for others, both parents and children, it has been a lifeline. One 5-year-old summed up his feelings, “I just love seeing everyone!” The adults have been surprised by how emotional they have found it seeing one another albeit online.
Facilitating these online ‘hangout’ groups has reminded me of the importance to everyone, regardless of age, of being in relationship with other people because this is how God has created us.
Carol deBeger is Family Pioneer and a Core Leader of Gordano Valley Church
Creating Online Content?
If you're struggling to keep families engaged with online content, be it on a Sunday morning or midweek, we recommend checking out these tips, examples and gems of advice from Parenting for Faith.