FILE PHOTO Photographer: Lalinka Mahote/ African News Agency (ANA)

Domestic violence safety plan amid Covid-19

CAPE TOWN –The scourge of gender-based violence has continued to stalk the country even more during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In his national address on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “There have been very disturbing reports of increased levels of gender-based violence since the lockdown started. The scourge of gender-based violence continues to stalk our country as the men of our country declared war on the women.”

The University of Cape Town’s Message for Mothers has created a few measures one can take to be prepared in case you experience violence or threat of violence in your home:

Have a safety plan in place

Keep your phone charged and with you and make sure you have airtime.

 

Know who to call

Save emergency numbers into your phone. This could be police, domestic violence organisation or even a trusted friend.

 

Tell someone

Be honest. Tell someone you trust about the risk of violence in your relationship devise a safety plan with them. Tell them what you want them to do if you are in danger.

 

Code words

Have a word which you can call or text to your trusted friend if you are in danger. Discuss in advance what that person will do if they receive the coded message from you: come and get you; call the police etc. If you have children explain to them what they should do if they hear the code word. 

 

Keep an emergency bag

Keep your most important documents – your ID, yours and your children’s birth certificates, a bit of money – in a secret place.

 

Get a Protection Order if you have to

A protection order is a legal document that determines the behaviour that the abuser should obey: for example, they should stop beating you, or they should support you financially, or they should hand over their gun to the police etc. A protection order is not the same thing as laying a charge against your abuser. 

 

Stay connected with others

Tell people about your feelings. Speak to someone you trust or even approach a counsellor. A lot of counsellors are providing services online, on the phone or via WhatsApp during the Covid-19 crisis.

 

Useful numbers to have: 

  • GBV Command Centre: Call 0800 428 428; Send a “Please Call Me” by dialling 1207867#; SMS ‘help’ to 31531
  • People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA): 0800 029 999
  • Lifeline’s Domestic Violence line: 0800 150 150

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