Day Fifteen | The Overlooked Pandemic: ‘Finding Me’ After Abuse
One pandemic has taken over all our lives for the past 20 months, but Violence Against Women and Girls is the overlooked pandemic that affects women across the world - 1.6 million in the past year - only intensified by COVID-19.
'Stay at home. Save Lives. Protect the NHS' - but for those suffering domestic abuse, it was their lives at risk.
Domestic abuse is not gender specific, but women are disproportionately affected; women made up 74% of victims of domestic abuse-related crimes in the UK year ending March 2020, with 73% of those reported were violent offences (Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2020).
The statistics are telling, but we know that there are so many more victims whose experiences go unreported.
The dark figures in this particular crime are slowly coming to light; at government level with the new Domestic Abuse Bill, and more media coverage. Domestic abuse storylines have entered the living rooms of millions across the country from Coronation Street to Hollyoaks, raising awareness particularly of non-physical abuse such as coercive, emotional and financial.
But this isn’t enough.
Police and other statutory agencies need to proactively be educated in re-traumatisation and re-victimisation, and be responsive to domestic abuse with speed and sensitivity; workplaces having policies and procedures to support their staff and clients after disclosures; local and regional pathways being widely recognised by all organisations working with the public to clearly define resources available.
Tomorrow's Women Wirral
Tomorrow’s Women knows all too well the devastating impacts of domestic abuse - and the emotional scars are just as damning as the physical. 42% of Tomorrow’s Women members will disclose domestic abuse on their first visit, increasing significantly when a woman engages.
Working on personal development after abuse is ground up work; self-esteem, confidence, self-worth and trust are often shattered by the time women are ready to ask for support.
Tomorrow’s Women’s ‘Finding Me’ course affords women the opportunity to talk openly in a facilitated, safe space about their experiences, gain peer support from other survivors, build their confidence and self esteem to move forward, and importantly be educated on the different areas and signs of domestic abuse - shifting self-blame, removing guilt and shame, and giving women a voice that they feel has been taken from them.
One survivor said:
“My past experience had left me feeling broken and stripped of everything I was, unable to make the most simple decisions due to fear. Thanks to the wonderful help that I received from Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, I can call myself a survivor. It has given me a sanctuary, offering safety, security, comfort, help, care, encouragement, knowledge and a voice”
Although we cannot eradicate domestic abuse and, more widely Violence Against Women and Girls entirely, what we can do is ensure that sensitive, appropriate, timely support is readily available for women who have suffered violence. It is the responsibility of each of us individually and collectively on an organisational level to be empathic, understanding, educated and proactive.
In the case of domestic abuse, it is not only the immediate safety response but the long term emotional support available for survivors to address their trauma, rebuild and move forward to find themselves after abuse.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need support you can contact Tomorrow’s Women, 9am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday and will be supported confidentially by our Independent Domestic Violence Advisers.
You can call on 0151 647 7907 or present to the centre at the following address:
Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, Beckwith Street East, Birkenhead, Wirral CH413JE.
You can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 24 hours 0808 2000 247 to speak with a team of highly trained advisers.
Any adult woman 18+ can access the support services of Tomorrow’s Women from courses and qualifications, to activities and support sessions. Call our admin team to find out more information and book in to register, and head to our website www.tomorrowswomen.org.uk or social media channels @tomorrowswomen to see our monthly timetables.
Sharna Kennedy, Tomorrow's Women Wirral