We need a sea change in the way we provide support for victims of domestic abuse.
• GOVERNMENT FUNDING • NATIONAL DISSEMINATION OF BEST PRACTICE
She Inspires Foundation conducted a series of broadcast interviews during the Covid-19 Lockdown, with key individuals fighting to support victims of domestic abuse. They’re all warriors. Vikki Launders Domestic abuse campaigner and fundraiser for the national charity Refuge.
Carole Marsden Former Chief Executive of Endeavour
Actress, Producer, Oscar Winner and Patron of Endeavour
Angela Gray Head Of Fundraising for Endeavour
Gill Smallwood CEO, Fortalice
Debbie Coates Survivor of domestic abuse, and writer for the film ‘Behind Closed Doors’
A live-streamed symposium featured four prominent North West figures, all of whom support our clarion call for action.
Edith Conn JP OBE DL Former High Sheriff and Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester
Lady Kishwar Desai Award-winning author, playwright, and Chair of The Partition Museum
Michael Brown BCAc Campaigner and father of Clare Wood
Gill Smallwood CEO, Fortalice
Survivors Not Victims We have every right to be proud of the amazing North West charities that have broken new ground to enable domestic abuse victims to become survivors. But there are still others who fall through the safety net and more, much more, needs to be done. These pages highlight the continuing wrongs that need putting right, and the thinking that lies behind the best practice being established by our regional warriors. For victims, we provide links and information to find support. And hope that reaching out for help will get you to the safe place you rightly expect. She Inspires Foundation wholeheartedly supports the vision of Edith Conn, in her passionate plea made in our Symposium, and highlighted on the following page, that sets out a new benchmark for all of us.
“No woman, no child, no man should ever seek help and not find a hand reaching out to them and bringing them to a safe place.”
“There’s always the blame factor and victims are made to think that they’re in the wrong. It takes an awful lot of courage to say ‘enough’s enough’ and the sooner we educate people the better.”
Edith Conn JP OBE DL
Former High Sheriff and Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Chair of Crimestoppers Greater Manchester and Ambassador for Inspire Awards.
Domestic abuse campaigner and fundraiser for the national charity Refuge.
Speaking from the panel of our live Symposium, Edith reminded us all of this single-minded goal, and that nothing less should be acceptable.
Speaking during her interview with the Foundation, Vicky spoke about her personal experience in the family home. “My father was quite a violent man towards my Mum, and that’s something that I grew up with. And I thought it was normal. It’s only as I got older that I realized that IT IS WRONG.”
“At home shouldn’t mean at risk” Edith said, then asked “is it right to contemplate a further 50 years where we need Fortalice, Refuge and Endeavour? Or is it time we did something about it?” “It’s time that we made some change. Time that we looked at the government and said ‘we need help to address this NOW, at school, at home and in the workplace.” www.crimestoppers-uk.org 0800 555 111 : 100% anonymous. Always.
Vicky launched her challenge to attempt 100 squats a day for 30 days and had over 5,000 people sign up to her fundraising page on Facebook, culminating in a mammoth £68,000 in donations for Refuge. Vicky finished her own challenge on the day of the interview and still found the energy to talk to us! www.refuge.org.uk National 24/7 Helpline: 0808 200 247
“To this day, I don’t know what happened to that woman. That was the turning point for me.”
“The ones we need to protect the most are the most isolated. And they include the elderly.”
Lady Kishwar Desai
Former Chief Executive of Endeavour
Award-winning author, playwright, and Chair of The Partition Museum
Carol told us during her interview about the woman who came to Endeavour many years ago to seek refuge, having spent the previous night sleeping in a stairwell with her dog. Whilst a place for the woman was available, there was no capacity for looking after her dog. Vicky recalled that the woman looked straight at her and said “This dog is my family. So I’ll be going home.” It was then, Vicky told us that “refuge has to be for every member of the family. Endeavour and Paws for Kids are unique in the UK – the first organization to look at the big picture of everybody in a family with adults, children and animals.” Carol agreed that the ‘best practice’ demonstrated by the Safehaven project at Endeavour MUST be replicated around the country so that no one is ever again turned away from safety because there’s no room for their family pet. www.endeavourproject.org.uk Tel: 01204 394842
As a panelist in our live Symposium, Kishwar emphasized the need to increase resources and target them at the most vulnerable groups. “We haven’t done enough to address the issue of domestic abuse” Kishwar claimed. “The issue of mental health is very important and there is not enough recognition that those who need psychological help can get support. We must also include the elderly, as we’re seeing more and more cases of abuse of elderly people at home.” “Anyone who is in any way vulnerable needs protection. Women, men, children, transgender or any group.” Call ‘Action on Elder Abuse’ for advice: 0808 808 8141 Search for Age UK Fact Sheet 78 ‘Safeguarding older people from abuse and neglect’ - December 2019.
“Gone are the days when we turn a blind eye. For every single one of us, I think it’s our responsibility. We’ve all got to stand together - because if we don’t, the world is never going to become a better place.”
“These are the hidden victims of domestic abuse. It’s not just women, it’s women, men, and entire families, and pets are very much part of the family.”
Actress, Producer, Oscar Winner and Patron of Endeavour
Head Of Fundraising for Endeavour
During her interview with us, Julie also said she was astonished that coercive control only became a crime in 2015. “That is, I think, abhorrent. I’ve seen it with my own eyes with people I’ve loved very dearly. It’s a very sensitive area because I have seen the ‘gaslighting’. I’ve seen strong people I love believing that it is absolutely their fault. I think the worst thing we can do is sit in judgement because if you haven’t walked in those shoes, you cannot know what that is like.”
During her interview, Angela explained how Endeavour provide foster care support for family pets so that women and children fleeing from domestic abuse knew that they could find a ‘safe haven’ with Endeavour and not worry about leaving anyone behind. In addition, the charity offers support for survivors returning home, settling in new accommodation, not speaking English as their first language, or not having access to benefits or rights to accommodation.
Having experienced sexual predators in an industry renowned for narcissm, Julie admitted to having to ‘fight her ground’ with some prominent and well-known figures. “That ability comes with age and I’m proud that I did” said Julie.
“We also work with young adults” explained Angela, “teaching 16 to 19 year olds about relationships, and what a healthy relationship looks like; keeping them safe, to break the cycle before it starts.”
“Bring the powers to be to heel and say that ‘this is just no good enough’. It isn’t good enough. You know it and I know it. The more people are raising their voices, it should be heard.”
“I landed in this job because when I worked in teaching, one of my students was murdered and that has always stayed with me. AND THAT’S WHY WE NEED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”
Michael Brown BCAc
Campaigner and Father of Clare Wood
Michael’s courage and perseverance led to vital legislation in the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – known to us all as ‘Clare’s Law’ – in memory of Michael’s daughter Clare Wood. Clare was brutally murdered by her partner who had a history of violence against women, including kidnapping by knifepoint. None of this information was able to be disclosed by the police, and this new legislation reverses that policy.
As the person responsible for honing the business model of this outstanding charity, Gill kindly gave us an interview as well as joining the panel for our live Symposium. The services of Fortalice are incredibly robust, having been developed over 40 years, with continuous updating and expanding to meet the escalating needs of an increasing number of victims. Yet Gill knows better than anyone that there is so much more to be done.
“I saw a lot of people doing a lot of good work but all pulling in different directions” said Michael during our live Symposium. “I was assured by all the powers that be that the law would be brought into practice. That was in 2012. Clare’s Law came in as a trial in 2014 and we’re still waiting six years later for it to pass the third reading in Parliament.“ Michael Brown was awarded a British Citizen Award in January 2020. Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Fact Sheet available from www.gov.uk/government/publications
“Every victim should have a voice, and have an opportunity, from every walk of life” she told us. “We also need to have a bigger focus on educating our children. When I see children coming in that are broken, they’re cutting themselves and self-harming, and some have suicidal ideation. We need to do an awful lot more to let those children reach out.” www.fortalice.org.uk 24 Hour Support: 01204 365677
“After I read my poem at a conference, a guy covered in tattoos came up to me and said: ‘That poem has hit me right in the heart. I’ve abused every woman I’ve been out with and that’s going to make me think about things differently’.”
Arabic: يلزنملا فنعلا: ةدعاسملا ىلع لوصحلا ةیفیك Bengali Farsi: یگداوناخ یاھ تنوشخ: هنوگچ French: Violences domestiques : obtenir de l’aide Gujarati
Italian: Violenza domestica: come chiedere aiuto Mandarin
After suffering the worst kind of abuse from her husband, Debbie told us during her interview that the journey to become the powerful advocate she is today was long and troubled. She didn’t get the help she desperately needed for much too long but she became stronger and more determined because of it. “I decided that there needed to be more emotional help” she told us. “I thought what can I do to help other women?” Debbie’s Facebook group now helps other survivors with support for their mental health, including post traumatic stress. “The main thing is not to be bitter” Debbie pleaded. “It’s not you that has the problem. It’s them. I’m no victim. I’m a warrior.” Search for ‘Debbie Coates – Behind Closed Doors’ on You Tube.
Polish: Przemoc domowa: jak uzyskać pomoc Romanian: Violența domestică: cum să obțineți ajutor Spanish: Abuso doméstico: cómo conseguir ayuda Hindi Punjabi Somali: Xadgudubka qoyska: sidee caawimaad loo helaa Tamil Urdu
Gulnaz Brennan Co-founder and Director of She Inspires Foundation
Ray Hanks Co-founder and Director of She Inspires Foundation
We’ve started a conversation that we should not allow to go away. This survivors’ toolkit features just a few of the thoughts of the amazing people we interviewed or who took part in our live Symposium. Thoughts and words have to be part of every conversation but the outcome we all want requires action. Things need to change and we have to raise our voices until they do. We want to identify every single piece of best practice in supporting the victims of domestic abuse and replicate it everywhere in the country. Whatever it costs, we then need to find the money. Anything else is unacceptable. Otherwise we continue to abandon victims and accept that their calls for help will often go unanswered. Such ambition would have previously been considered foolish. But the world has now experienced an unprecedented shared crisis, where the availability of money to address the threat to life has been unequalled. The impossible has proved possible. When there is no other choice, we can afford everything we need. Charities and organisations who support victims of domestic abuse are an emergency service the same as any other. For every life in danger, there has to be an immediate and effective response. The abuser and the abused must be separated and kept apart. No question. No doubt. No prevarication.
During one of our interviews, a survivor of abuse told us how the police had promised her that they would remove her violent partner and call her when it was safe to go home. She waited in McDonalds for the call so she could safely return. What she got instead was a suggestion from the police that her partner had nowhere to go, so she should return to the abusive home. She endured two more years of his violent and coercive behaviour. Michael Brown told us of the reassurances he received about how Clare’s Law would protect others from suffering the same fate as his brutally murdered daughter. But the law was interpreted in a way that protected the potential abusers, with a period of up to 35 days rigorous assessment before any information was passed to an enquiring partner. In 2019, when Rosie Darbyshire applied under Clare’s Law to the police for information about a new boyfriend, she had to wait for an answer. She had no idea that the boyfriend had just been released from prison for Grievous Bodily Harm. Ten days later, and before Rosie was told, he battered her to death. So we say this. No more excuses. Fund domestic abuse support from central or local government. And implement laws that protect the abused and not the abusers. Join the conversation. Raise your voice. Let’s not stop until we succeed. Gulnaz Brennan & Ray Hanks for She Inspires Foundation C.I.C.