On this exact day 12 years ago my home was a women’s refuge in Exeter.
During my time there I saw and learned many things that have stayed with me to this day.
I learned that over half the women staying there at that time, myself included, would return to the volatile relationships they’d fled from.
I watched toddlers who hadn’t yet learnt their first sentence but had learnt it was acceptable to spit in their mummy’s faces or attack them using as much violence as there little bodies could force.
I met the kindest lady in her late sixties who was wheelchair bound through ill health. Her husband had beaten her black and blue. She told me she used refuges like ‘respite care’ because he needed a break from her and she liked being around other women. She told me he found it hard for to look after her and he got frustrated, she assured me it wasn’t really his fault. She stayed a few weeks until her bruises healed and he had time to calm down and then she returned by taxi. The women who worked with her told me she had always been this way, she blamed herself as she was unable to conceive when they were younger and she believed because she was unable to give him a child she had turned him into this.
When I began my page I tried to trace her, to offer her some help & support. I found out she passed away just over four years ago, whilst still married to her husband. How utterly devastating.
I spent time living in that refuge because I’d isolated myself from my friends through embarrassment & shame and I knew the trouble it would bring to my family’s doors if they took me in again.
I spent time with the women who volunteered their days to spend time talking to mums like me, to sit & reassure me that I wasn’t crazy, that I hadn’t failed my baby and that things would be ok.
Despite right then not being the right time for me to leave that relationship their words carried me through the bad times.
I remembered when I caused arguments out of frustration and anger it wasn’t my fault despite me ‘knowing the consequences’.
I knew when I did fight back and the end result was horrific and it all seemed such a never ending mess that actually, my babies wouldn’t be better off without me alive.
And I remembered I wasn’t useless, my body wasn’t revolting and I wasn’t everything else I was constantly told I was that before meeting those amazing women I believed…and because of them, and the time they chose to invest in me I knew one day I would pay it all forward.
Last year when my page reached an audience where I had a platform to make a difference I decided to contacted Stop Abuse For Everyone
I went & met with Jacinta and her team and we set up a campaign which saw hundreds of gifts sent from our crew over Christmas which meant lots of children had new items so staff could use play therapy with them for the trauma they’d endured.
After I sold my calendars in December I drove up to SAFE & met with the team.
I donated £500 of my money to personally thank them for what they did for me all those years ago.
They updated me recently that this money was used to help many children but mainly one young boy who has now done amazingly well within their service after living with Domestic abuse in his family home and suffering devastating effects.
SAFE had their last refuge, which was where I stayed, closed down in 2014.
Children continue to be harmed by domestic violence and many experience trauma and I believe this is totally unacceptable.
Alongside refuges and Domestic abuse services all over the UK they continue to have cuts made and they aren’t sure right now how much longer they can continue without the help of us, the public.
If you are in a Domestic Abusive relationship now their website is below, please have a look, it’s loaded with information & help and there is a ‘quick exit’ button and a key to deleting your browser history to keep you safe.
And if you’re not in a Domestic Abusive relationship and you can spare a few pounds for these women and children to make them safe, please, donate. It’s crucial to keeping these warriors alive.
Tomorrow morning I begin my Domestic Abuse training with SAFE.
This means soon, when I qualify, I can volunteer to go out into the community and work with these baby warriors and their momma’s and show them there’s a whole world out there which they’re yet to experience without fear, without violence and anger – and once they get there they will never look back ❤️