GCC Blog

Domestic Violence by Amy Lear

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been spending a lot more time at home. For most of us, home is a safe place. A place where we are free to be ourselves. A place where we feel comfortable and protected. For people who experience domestic violence, tragically, this is not the case. Home is not a safe place but a place of danger and unpredictability. 


After the horrible and unthinkable murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children in Brisbane in February this year, we are all too aware of the problem of domestic violence within our country. The statistics tell us that every week in Australia, one woman is killed by her current or former partner and one in four Australian women have experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, financial, sexual, social and verbal abuse. It is important to note that men also experience domestic violence, but statistics show that it is women who are at greater risk of death and physical injury. Unfortunately, the implications of COVID-19 have increased the risk of violence within families. Research from China indicates that reports of domestic violence have tripled since the start of the Coronavirus and early reports from Australia are showing a similar trend.  


There are many factors that are placing increased stress on relationships during this pandemic. These include financial strain, employment uncertainty, health concerns, pressures of homeschooling and social isolation. Sadly, some people will respond to this stress by using violence and abuse as a way of trying to gain power and control in their intimate relationships. For people who were experiencing violence from their partners prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these relationships are likely to further deteriorate, and the violence and abuse are likely to increase in frequency and/or severity. For others, it might be the first time they have experienced violence from their partner. It is important to note that while the stress and hardship people are experiencing as a result of the Coronavirus is very real, they are never an excuse for violence. Everyone has the right to safety and to live free from fear. 


People who use violence in their intimate relationships, often use the tactic of socially isolating their partner as a way of maintaining power and control in the relationship. Due to COVID-19, people are more isolated and have fewer options for support and respite. They no longer have the option of finding momentary safety at the home of a trusted friend or attending playgroup or work. Someone who uses violence may also use COVID-19 as a strategy to exert further power and control in the relationship. For example, this might include using the pandemic as a way to justify an increase of their control over family finances or to excuse, blame or justify their violent behaviour.  With the knowledge that domestic violence is likely to increase during this pandemic, we must ask ourselves, “What can we do?” 


What can we do to support and help people who are experiencing violence in their relationships? 

What can we do to support people who are using violence in their relationships to help them stop this behaviour?  

We need to turn to God in prayer and seek his guidance and direction in responding to this issue. We know our God is loving, just and compassionate and that he has designed us to live in healthy relationships with one another. Let us pray that God will bring safety, peace and healing to all who have been affected by domestic violence. Let us pray that God will use us, His church, to bring His light into this darkness and bring about an end to domestic violence. 

God calls us to pray, and He also calls us to take practical steps to respond to the needs of people who are hurting and suffering. Here are some tips of what to do:


  • REACH OUT to anyone you think might be at risk of experiencing abuse. Call your friend or family member who you think might be at risk and check-in with how they are going. Try to create a space to talk to your friend without their partner around so they can talk openly and safely. 
  • ASK QUESTIONS about their relationship and how things have been since the pandemic started. The most important thing you can do is listen and believe what they tell you. 
  • IDENTIFY abusive behaviours that have been directed towards them and let them know that it is not their fault. Make sure you respect their right to make their own decisions and help them to build confidence in themselves. 
  • BE INFORMED about the services in your area that provide support to people experiencing domestic violence (see below for some helpful services). 
  • OFFER PRACTICAL HELP to your friend, but be responsive to what they say they need, rather than giving them advice. You can also support them in exploring options they have available to them that might increase their safety. This may include developing a safety plan if they need to leave the house urgently and contacting the police. 
  • AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, stay in regular contact with people you are concerned about, as talking to a supportive friend or family member is incredibly helpful.


It is also important to reach out to people who you think might be using violence and abuse in their relationships. Address your concerns by showing your genuine care for them and their family. Empathise with the stress and hardship they are experiencing but support them to recognise this behaviour is not okay. Assist them by directing them to professional services that will help them stop abusive and violent behaviour (see below). 


Another step that we can all take in ending domestic violence is modelling safe relationships that are based on equality and respect. Be mindful of how you speak to your partner and about your partner and make sure you are being honouring and respectful of them as a person.  This not only creates a healthy relationship for you and your partner but also helps to set a positive example for younger generations. We can also stand against comments that we hear others make that we think are disrespectful, even if they are only said as a joke. The Australian Human Rights Commission recognises that gender inequality is a key driver of domestic violence. Standing up for gender equality (ie. Men and women are equal before God - Galatians 3:26-29, Genesis 1:27) is a crucial step we can take towards putting a stop to domestic violence. 


Manly Warringah Women’s Resource Centre provides assistance to women and children experiencing domestic violence. Grace City Church has provided support to this service for a number of years. Our Safe Together City group, which is all about ending domestic violence in our community, has reached out to the Resource Centre in recent weeks to offer assistance during the pandemic. With the support of Foodcare, our group has been able to gather together much-needed grocery supplies such as pasta, rice and breakfast cereals and have delivered these to the Refuge. We have also been able to support the Resource Centre in setting up online group programs, so they are able to continue to support women throughout the pandemic. 


We all have the right to safety. Let’s come together during this pandemic and beyond and do all we can to ensure everybody is safe in their own homes. 


National Sexual Assalt, Domestic & Family Violence Counselling Service - 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)


Manly Warringah Women's Resource Centre (including Women and children's Refuge and DV case management support) - 9971 4499

Relationships Australia (counselling and men's behaviour change programs) - 1300 364 277


Mensline Australia - 1300 789 978


Domestic Violence Crisis Line -

1800 65 64 63