COVID-19 Home Stay: Child abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

By Dr. Pamela Mukaire

“Yes staying home will save me and my children from COVID-19 but not from the fits of my husband on my body and my children’s small faces.”

This is the story of a woman who has endured abuse for years. As she tells her story, she speaks of how her husband’s going to work has given her and the children a break from his abuse these past 7 years. A sweet man she says, but one who does not do well with anxiety. Now in the face on no income, three children and a wife to feed, curfews and no place to go, she finds herself “jailed” with a loved one unable to work through the mounting anxiety, … taking it all out on her and the children.

Women in abusive situations do an incredibly good job using a variety of methods in seeking assistance, halting or minimizing the abuse inflicted upon them and their children. In countries like Uganda, where court orders of protection do not do much, an abusive partners going to work, and the abused being able to get out of the house a few hours each day (for the children too – going to school), can be the only temporary relief. With COVID-19 in place, everyone is at home – the abused are having to stay in the same house with their abuser 24/7.

“When will this end?”, she asks. “When do you think COVID-19 will end?”

In Vienna Virginia, we are still able to take small walks here and there – get out of the house and take an exercise and mental health breather. As I did my routine walk today I prayed for this colleague of mine in Uganda, and thought of the women, children and men in America who may be kept safe at home from COVID-19 but not abuse.

I found myself singing that familiar song from Psalm 61: 1 “when my heart is overwhelmed hear my heart and attend unto my prayer. Lead me to the rock that’s higher than I.”

And would you know it, my walk got me past a very happy family, playing music and barbecuing, with a child in her mother lap. It is heart warming to know that some families are bonding during this time.

For those that are struggling, we have prayed for you, hope you find the courage to seek the help and support you need safely outside your home. As I pray for my colleague, Psalm 59: 9 and 17 “O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me.”

In a time when our mental, social, financial, social, and physical strength fizzles, I am so glad that God is our Strength, and the One who has promised to go on ahead of us and ensure that tomorrow is a better day. It is a blessed thing to lean on a sure hope!

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