• Staying safe during COVID-19

    Domestic Violence during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

    in South Africa

  • Health information on COVID-19

    We recommend the following resources to stay informed on the latest developments and national advice:

    • The World Health Organisation's website
    • South African Government advice on their website, Twitter page, and dedicated 24/7 COVID-19 number 0800 029 999
    • News24 exclusive dedicated COVID-19 page

  • COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

    We know that COVID-19 will have serious impacts on the lives of women and children living in abusive and violent homes. Economic stress, uncertainties around the future, health concerns, is very likely to raise tension at home and make it an unsafe place to be confined to.


    We created this page to provide information and support. To remind you that you're not alone. rAInbow, and other services, are still here to help you. This is not a time to hesitate or be afraid to ask for help.


    Abuse is never ok. Not during COVID-19, not ever.

    If you're in immediate danger or experiencing an emergency, call 10111


    If you're not in immediate danger, but still need support, we've listed resources that are available during this time. We'll continue to update this page to reflect changes in services.


    Online support


    Right now, leaving the home might not be safe, or even an option. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get accurate information or advice if you’re experiencing abuse. Online and telephone services become even more important at this time.


    Just remember to stay safe when accessing these. Find a safe spot or a time when you know your abuser won’t be listening or monitoring your movements.

    rAInbow is here to chat to you 24/7, for free, on Facebook Messenger.


    You can access it from any device connected to the internet, simply by clicking on the CHAT NOW button here or on the top right corner of this page. You can also go on your Facebook Messenger and search for chat2bo.


    The heightened stress and fear caused by this pandemic, coupled with being in closed confinements and isolation, might lead to tension and even incidents of abuse for the first time. You might not be able to reach out to friends, family or colleagues to speak about it.


    rAInbow can help you navigate this situation and validate what you're experiencing.


    You can find a list of specialist resources that operate helplines including ChildLine (child protection), Alcoholics Anonymous (alcohol abuse) and SADAG (depression and anxiety), by exploring the resource​ section on rAInbow.


    Other Helplines and WhatsApp support groups


    The STOP Gender Violence Helpline is a toll-free number operating 24/7 on 0800 150 150 or *120*7867# as is the GBV Command Centre which can be reached on 0800 428 428 or *120*7867#


    The Warrior Project is an online portal providing information and resources relating to your rights and legal procedures. They also run a free helpline on 0860 333 353 or through WhatsApp on 063 603 3759 which can be accessed from 8am to 5pm during weekdays.


    Masimanyane can help with those seeking counselling and paralegal support over WhatsApp. Please visit their site to find out the different counsellor numbers.


    Thuthuzela Rape Care Centres (TCCs) will remain open 24 hours a day, even during lockdown.

  • Safety tips

    Your safety needs to be a priority! Here are some things that can help you stay safe, or that you can do to help someone you're worried might be at risk of abuse at this time.

    Stay in touch with family/friends

    Keep your phone charged and nearby. Try to stay in regular touch with family or friends by calling or speaking on video chat so they can see and hear your voice. It's easier to check if you're ok this way than over text/SMS.

    Have a code word

    Establish a code word with someone you trust, and that your abuser won't understand. Can you agree with them now that if you use it, then they should send help, either by calling the police or a neighbour?

    If you're thinking of leaving, have a Safety Plan

    This doesn't apply only during this time - it is always recommended you have a plan if you're leaving an abusive relationship. Read our Safety Plan here. This includes advice such as packing an emergency bag or having a list of things you'd have to bring in case you need to escape quickly. Things like ID, money, medication.

    A safety spot

    Where in your home can you go to get some space, or get physically away if there's an argument? Maybe there isn't a place you can feel safe at home. But think about what is the best possible place for you to seek refuge to reduce potential harm, maybe away from any weapons and close to a door or window so you can escape if needed.

    Look after yourself

    Your mental and physical health should be your priority. Keeping a routine, taking breaks when needed, sleeping and eating as usual, are good ways to minimise stress and anxiety. You can read more tips on these on SADAG's website.

    Take refuge elsewhere

    If you're living with an abuser and are worried about lockdown during this time, can you stay with a friend or family instead? It might not be an easy ask, but important if you think that would make you safer than being in your own home.

  • Share information and show support

    We'll be sharing bite-sized info on our social media channels during this time.

    Another way you can help is to make sure you're following and sharing​ posts.

    Someone who needs support might see it 💚

  • Get in touch

    This is a time to stand together and look out for those around you. If you found this page useful, please share it with someone who might benefit from it too. Sharing accurate and safe information is more important than ever!


    If you provide Domestic Violence services and would like to be listed or if you have any feedback or ideas to make this guide better, we want to hear from you!

    Hi Rainbow
    How it works
    Rainbow is not a real person, it is a personality created by AI for Good, using computer software: an ‘artificial intelligence’. Rainbow will receive and send messages, and also share stories about experiences of domestic abuse. The content of the stories and information supplied has been developed by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice. Rainbow has a profile on Facebook, but the software application is hosted on another system called The Bot Platform, which is connected to Facebook using an application programming interface, or API.
    You contact Rainbow by sending messages using Facebook Messenger, either using Facebook, the Messenger app, or by using a chat window on the website: hirainbow.org. You have to be signed into Facebook when you use Facebook Messenger. When you message Rainbow, it is like messaging anyone else on Facebook. The Rainbow profile will receive and keep copies of your messages, and also the messages which it sends back. These messages all stay within Facebook. However, for the artificial intelligence to work, your messages are also processed by The Bot Platform (TBP). As well as your messages, TBP will receive some information from Facebook:
    Your name (first name and last name)
    Your general location (not your precise address)
    Your time zone
    TBP does not store this information. Facebook will create a random user ID which TBP stores, and uses when it processes your messages. This means that the messages that are on TBP are anonymous. Most of the time, TBP will not keep copies of your messages. However, if you ask something that Rainbow does not recognise, TBP will keep the message and share it with the (human) software developers. The software developers will use messages like this to train Rainbow so that it can understand more complex questions. Remember, these messages are anonymous, your name is not attached to them. These messages will go to AI for Good, and also to Soul City. If you choose to include personal information in your messages to Rainbow – for example your name, and details about your life and current situation – please be aware that it may be shared with these organisations. TBP will also keep anonymous data about the messages, to analyse what sorts of questions are asked, what stories are read, and how people are using Rainbow.
    Terms of use
    Rainbow is open for anyone over the age of 13 to use, and is not to be used by anyone under that age. It does not give legal advice, and will not tell you what to do. We (AI for Good) intend for Rainbow to be available any time of day or night, but access may be limited, or drop out, for reasons beyond our control, or we may need to suspend the service without notice. We do not make any promises to you about how Rainbow will work, or that you will have any particular outcome from using the service. We ask that you do not send any messages or pictures containing inappropriate content (for example, anything abusive, harmful or illegal), or do anything to try and disrupt the service. We will block or bar anyone who we feel is abusing the service. The intellectual property remains with AI for Good.
    Your privacy
    Rainbow relies upon Facebook and Facebook Messenger, and we don’t have any control over Facebook, or how you use it. If there are any technical issues, bugs, or security breaches within Facebook then they may affect Rainbow. Also, please be careful about keeping your login details private, and use a complex, unique
    password to access Facebook. This is to make sure that no-one else can log in to your account and see your message history, which will include your messages to Rainbow.
    You can delete your messages to Rainbow, but this won’t affect the copies which are on the Rainbow profile. Every message you send is received and stored within Facebook on the Rainbow profile page. We will keep your messages on the Rainbow profile for a year, unless you tell us to delete them. This is in case you want to share your conversation history with anyone, for example a therapist, or advisor. 
    When you send the first message to Rainbow, you are sharing with TBP your name, general location and time zone. If you do not want to share these details then you cannot use the service. Also, remember that if you include personal information in your messages then this may be shared with Soul City.
    The purpose for processing your information is to provide the Rainbow ‘smart companion’ service, which includes keeping your messages for up to a year in case you want to share them. The legal basis for processing your information is your consent, which you can withdraw at any time. If you would like to withdraw your consent for processing then send us an email, and all your personal information will be deleted. If you want to know what information Rainbow holds about you then you can ask to see a copy, by sending us an email request. You will be sent any information free of charge, normally within 30 days.
    We take your privacy seriously. We follow security standards which are recognised as best practice. All of your messages are encrypted, and your 
    information is stored on systems which are also encrypted. The Rainbow profile on Facebook is kept private, and access is restricted. We have data processing agreements with the third-party services which we use (Facebook, The Bot Platform). These require our partners to comply with EU data privacy laws, keep your information safe, and to notify us if anything happens which might compromise the security of your data. 
    Facebook stores information on servers across the world, and so your messages on the Rainbow profile may be stored outside the European Economic Area (EEA). TBP is hosted by Amazon Web Services, on servers in the United States. Both Facebook and TBP are signed up to the EU-US privacy shield, which the European Commission has decided is adequate to enable transfers outside the EEA.
    Our contact details are:
    AI for Good
    32 Wheel House, 1 Burrells Wharf Square, London, UK E14 3TA.
    Our email address is:
    You have the right under EU law to request that your data is rectified (this means corrected), and to restrict or object to processing, and the right to data portability. To exercise any of these rights then email us.
    You also have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners’ Office, or the data protection regulator in another EU country where you work or live. If you live in South Africa you also have the right to complain to the Information Regulator.
    This policy is governed by English law.
    Latest update: Friday 9th November 2018