Thursday, 2 May 2013

We need to talk about domestic violence more often

We don't need to quote figures and statistics when discussing domestic violence, we all know someone is has been a victim or we have been ourselves. No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to admit it until something awful happens and then there is lots of talk, gossip and 'told you so's'. Much too much, much to late in my opinion.  

One woman in four experiences domestic violence at some point in her life and an abused woman may live with domestic violence for years before she tells anyone or seeks help.

I have friends who have arrived on my doorstep with a carrier bag in one hand and a kid in the other. They knew I was a safe bet  because I am very open about it happening to me.  

Two years after I left my daughter father, way way back in the 1990s, he hit me and fractured my skull. I called it assault the police called it 'domestic violence' because we had formerly had a relationship and had a child together?  In a daze I got my child, took a taxi to the hospital and called my best friend. We sat in the hospital waiting room laughing, the doctor thought we were crazy, but it really was one of those laugh or cry moments!  The police did nothing back then, I wasn't a typical 'victim' so was not a priority.  To keep myself safe I never met him alone ever again, it made access to his daughter difficult but that was a court battle I was willing to fight and won.  

It seems to me that things are better now than 15 years ago, but we still have a long way to go in giving support to people suffering from domestic violence which is why when I came across Amy's story I wanted to share it. 

I have been asked by Denise to write this blog about my personal experience of seeing someone become a victim of domestic violence, and a range of jewellery I make called Promise Abi.

Firstly let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m Amy, I am 24 and I am a qualified hairdresser. In December 2012 I had to leave the salon I had worked in for 8 years, so I took the opportunity to work for myself. I rent a chair in a small salon and love it! I also make jewellery and sell it through Twitter and Facebook. After a few months of starting my jewellery business I decided I wanted to help a charity close to my heart. So I designed a range to not only raise much needed funds but to also raise awareness.

This charity is The Haven Wolverhampton; their aim is to support women and children who are vulnerable to domestic violence, homelessness and abuse. Why is this charity so close to me? Well I have experienced how very important and vital their work is, and without them so many would suffer in silence. My sister was a victim of domestic violence for several years. It’s heart-breaking to watch the person you love so much become a shell of the person they once were.  To watch them suffer and know you cannot do a thing about it.

Domestic violence can affect someone in many ways, not only physical, but also mentally and financially. It can affect a whole family, as it did in our situation. I won’t go into detail as I still find it hard to talk about it, but I hope that by me opening up just slightly and encouraging more people to talk about it, that we can together make a difference and see the cruel statistics in domestic violence drop, even if only a little. It’s a taboo subject that people are frightened to talk about, I want to change that.

With this range I have made I hope that not only is it giving The Haven vital funds to support their work, but it also showing that domestic violence is a serious problem that needs more people aware of the signs,  how to spot it and help others.  There are four items at the moment. I hope that survivors will see one of the charms and relate to it so they can wear the bracelet/necklace to show how strong they are to have come through a hard battle.

My sister is happier now, but that hasn’t come without tough times for her, she suffers from many health problems and PTSD because of years abuse. It’s nice to finally see her smile again.

If you are worried about someone who you think could be suffering please try and get them help. There are many charities that can help and you could save a life. Together I hope we can all say NO to domestic violence.  Amy - @themessydrawer

Inspired? You can support Amy on her Just Giving page, I donated, hope you do too.

0808 2000 247 is the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge Its a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available.

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