Hidden violence against women – 26 November 2018

A young, well-dressed woman stands with her back to us. She is looking at a bird locked in a cage. The cage sits on a table, cornered in the room. Everything in this picture suggests a lack of freedom – the bird is not free, and neither is the woman. Will she unlock the cage and release the bird? And what about this woman, from what does she need to be set free? If we were able to see her face we might work out what she was feeling, but she remains hidden to us.

Women are used to hiding things, even from friends. Emotions, disappointments, fears can all be unacknowledged and sublimated to enable a female to enter public space. And then there are those things about which it is difficult to speak: violence at home, threats from a partner, loss of self-esteem and self-worth. In the end it can be shame itself that traps a woman and reduces her freedom.

This picture is by the Irish artist William Orpen (1905).

25 November marked the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Many faith groups, including the Scottish Episcopal Church, participate in these days.


Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Maya Angelou, from Still I rise

God bless you
with insight to recognise violence in all its forms,
and courage to name it,
speaking out for justice.

The Lord Jesus bless you
with compassion for the vulnerable,
and grace to stand with them,
sharing his strength.

The Holy Spirit bless you
with a prayerful heart,
and power to breathe peace,
transforming the world.

The blessing of the holy and glorious Trinity,
eternal Wisdom, living Word, abiding Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.

Tear Fund, prayer for those working to end violence against women