Between Sunday 25 November and Monday 10 December we took part in the global 16 Days of Action against domestic abuse. Cat Glew, Women’s Strategy Manager, and Tee Falcone, St Mungo’s volunteer, reflect on a packed 16 days for St Mungo’s.
Cat Glew, St Mungo’s Women’s Strategy Manager:
Thousands of people live in our accommodation or work for St Mungo’s. We know that many of our colleagues and clients are affected by domestic abuse, having either experienced it themselves, or witnessed the effect it has on others.
Noone should have to deal with domestic abuse alone. This year we wanted our involvement in the global 16 Days of Action against domestic abuse to be bigger and better than ever, to let our clients and staff know where they can turn for support. Our creative staff and clients rose to the challenge, hosting more than 16 events across London, Bristol and beyond.
We marked White Ribbon Day on 25 November, with staff and clients wearing the ribbon and making the pledge never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
And throughout the 16 Days of Action we celebrated the Blooming Strong campaign from Standing Together against Domestic Violence. The campaign is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate the emotional strength and resilience of women by presenting a flower to women living and working within our services. This small act celebrates and recognises their strength and demonstrates to women who have experienced or who are experiencing violence how Blooming Strong they are.
The 16 Days are just the start; we’ve signed the Make A Stand pledge from the Chartered Institute of Housing to show that domestic abuse is a priority for us all year round. Developed in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, the pledge is an ongoing commitment to support all our staff and clients experiencing domestic abuse.
We’ve also formed a new task and finish group, bringing together colleagues from across St Mungo’s to make sure we are offering the best possible support for our clients and staff.
Tee Falcone, St Mungo’s Domestic Abuse Task and Finish Group:
The 16 Days of Action is an important time to raise awareness and a time for reflection and positive changes, for women to continue to see and believe in a brighter future ahead.
I prefer not to use the word ‘victim’ of domestic abuse, it portrays an image of weakness and vulnerability. I prefer the word ‘survivor’ or ‘conqueror’ – what a beautiful image of strength and resilience.
Being strong as a survivor means working towards a stronger mindset. It means striving to overcome the past and gain full concentration for the future, taking a closer look at those around you – do they have your best interests at heart? Listen to your instincts – they are rarely wrong.
The first vital part of support for women following on from domestic abuse actually comes from within, when a woman admits she’s had enough. This is your healing period to regain your sense of self. Loving yourself is important; put yourself first. Admit to yourself what you have had enough – you will know – and seek help when you need it.
But with any therapy or support, there needs to be a firm cut off point in order to not become dependent on your therapist or other members of the group. Now is your time to walk your own path, how exciting.
A heightened level of hyperawareness is common with survivors of domestic abuse. It can be difficult to trust again, but in time it will become easier. Be kind to yourself – you’ve been through enough.
You will find yourself reading signs of unhealthy relationships much better. Slowly, and in time, you will feel energised to put yourself first and not to accept any form of controlling behaviour.
Stay focused; life is beautiful and so are you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact a specialist organisation for support:
National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
National LGBT+ Helpline: 0800 999 5428
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327