sat-7 helps stem a rising tide of domestic violence
With several Middle Eastern countries documenting a rise in domestic abuse during the pandemic, SAT-7 ARABIC and SAT-7 TÜRK address this deadly trend. By speaking out on a taboo issue and helping families manage emotions, the programs contribute to prevention while offering vital support to victims.
“The WhatsApp messages never stop. Since we have all been isolated, so many people have wanted to talk with us. They need lots of prayer and encouragement, and they are also sharing their testimonies and struggles,” says Rawad Daou, who presents the popular relationship counselling show From Heart to Heart with his wife Marianne.
Some of the struggles viewers are sharing include the threat of violence in their homes. “So, we felt this was the right time to tackle domestic violence, speak out against it, and suggest practical solutions to help families make this time as peaceful as possible,” says Marianne. She explains that families in Lebanon, where the show is made, were already feeling a great deal of fear and worry because of the recent protests and economic crisis. “Now, people have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. Others must work at home while caring for their children. All this makes them tense, upset, and angry – which can lead them to take their anger out on each other or on their children,” she says.
On From Heart to Heart, counsellor Jessy Tohme offers practical advice for managing emotions, such as alternating childcare and work time so that each parent has time to rest and relax. She also advises couples to be as supportive and understanding of each other as possible, saying, “This is a one-of-a-kind situation that we have never experienced before. It’s new to everybody; it’s hard for everybody.” And, warning parents of the consequences of child abuse, she says, “Keep in mind: ‘What do I want my kids to remember? Do I want this to be a nice experience that they will always remember, or an incredibly sad experience when their parents hurt them?’”
Following live episodes, several women who have endured domestic violence have contacted Marianne seeking prayer and support. This is a brave move, the presenter explains, in a country where women are told they must stay silent to protect their families. Although reports to police of domestic abuse have reportedly increased by 200 percent, Marianne stresses that those who make a report are the exception. “Women often have nowhere to go; they are not empowered at all,” she says. Along with prayer and counselling, From Heart to Heart directs those at risk to specialist organisations that can help them.
Meanwhile, SAT-7 TÜRK is raising awareness in Turkey, where a recent rise in domestic abuse adds to an existing high rate of gender-based violence. The empowering women’s live show Homemade recently discussed the issue and the limited legal protections for victims. Lawyer and guest speaker Meltam Aslan says, “Families are spending unprecedented amounts of time together. Everyone has their own thoughts at this difficult time, and these thoughts can be reflected in verbal and physical abuse toward those nearest to them.” To minimise this, she says, viewers must take care of their mental health and practice positive thinking. “It must be understood that abusing your partner or children will not bring your job, your salary, or your lost health back,” she says.
Presenter Semsa adds, “Violence is never a solution.”