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As part of the run up to International Women’s Day 2021, Broxtowe Women’s Project and the National Justice Museum have worked together on the #DontJudgeMe project. The project’s aim is to raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence, address the stigmas surrounding it, and to provide a platform for survivors to express themselves. Survivors have written poetry and made artwork, to express their own experiences of domestic abuse and violence. BWP & the NJM will host an exhibition later in 2021 to continue to raise awareness. We all can play our own role in supporting those affected by domestic abuse, ultimately with the end goal to end abuse.

For more information on the project, please visit broxtowewomensproject.org.uk/dontjudgeme

Christmas Tree How beautiful you look All shiny and bright Glistening in the corner of the room Like a queen lighting up the room The star radiates across the room Leading the way to the future As in olden days Guiding the kings on their way My beautiful lights Twinkling away Like fairies dancing Along the branches My gorgeous tree, It’s strong branches extend across the room Their strength touching everyone Baubles so bright and shiny Wearing your vibrant colours That dazzle and dance Whilst your lights traverse the gloom. My thrills cannot be hidden At the coloured boxes below Gits so thoughtfully given, Such caring people who know. How times have changed So many years you were hidden away Pushed and shoved to the back So far out of reach, a distant memory. Lost, neglected, forlorn

No lights shining Dark and dreary Drab and dull My pleas and fights Sobs and tears, weep and wails. Then the crumbs you threw I will get it down tomorrow! But tomorrow never came Not last year, nor the year before The tree was hidden Not seen for many a year.

Its staying exactly here! My eyes sparkle brightly as I laugh with my family all that you destroyed, You utter total thief! The joys of love and laughter Now reside inside this house Look at the tree, sing voices

Full of happiness and glee. No gifts or presents Ever given with love Just a grunt of disparagement Don’t you think you’ve got enough! But that is all gone Now I have my tree Beautiful and resplendent Just like me! You just carry on stealing What is not yours to take Your greed will never be satisfied gluttony your great mistake. No more theft or hiding; Deceits and dishonesties gone Your lies and fabrications discovered Honesty finally won! I have reclaimed my smile That you stole and hid away Just like the tree

They will be remembered now The whole year through As we talk and chatter Our life without you!

The tree is packed away; Baubles in their boxes Safely until next time For next Yuletide celebration. This year we can plan Our adventures galore Our journey along together a brand-new road ahead!

Freedmum Sarah Antoinette Ball January 2021

Desperate To Hold On Desperate to hold on, Only if I knew, Not only was this affecting me but, These little eyes watching too Just one more chance or Up and go? Did I overreact, Guess I'll never know Every day is such a fight More time went on, Enough is enough, time to up and go. TS

Debbie Lane

Don’t Judge Me! Don’t judge me, you know not of my life The false smiles painted to Hide bitterness and strife.

Don’t judge me by my hair, Hanging so limp. just echoes my existence definitely not a life!

Don’t judge me, By my child He is the only joy Is this dark and desperate life.

Don’t judge me by my coat, Threadbare and tatty You don’t see the Tattered dreams hidden beneath.

Don’t judge me, By shoes all battered and worn, Just like my heart inside All bashed up and torn.

Don’t judge me my by life I know no other way Instead see your reflection and see who’s judging you.

Freedmum Feb 2021

In Time I Have Evolved In time I have evolved into many people, nature vs industry the juxtaposition, Developed like myself through need of opposition. Understanding of this complexity of life brings relief, school of life for me then education, taking me on a multi skilled fantastic journey. Running, travelling exploring and escaping, In searching out I have found family and a home, loves redemption. Undertaking new opportunities and challenging myself gave me strengths, Supporting myself and others like me on Journeys of length. Seeing through the darkness into the light, celebrating this, true essence and beauty of life, it's rich diversity. Reaching a calm and balance of mind, I have received love, children, a husband and true friendships, viewing the world without judgement I know what is of most importance. I create and in creating thrive, I have now created my life. No, is a strength of my voice not a weakness offering change that's much needed, giving, creating, feeling, enjoying a choice, being me and striving!

Emily Rowe

Gravy and Mash! What is this? Roared, plate slammed Crashing in my face Smashed across the table Call that mashed potato! Swine’s get better mush That’s total crap Not even fit for a hog! You stupid thick bitch You can’t even Do this right The simplest bloody thing! What’s it swimming in All across the plate Where’s my thick gravy Not that grotty mess! I splutter my apology Shaking as I take his plate Must do better next time My heart bursting with hate. You’re useless, effing useless Everyone agrees Pigs are fed better, Now get me some cheese! Plates all cleared away Scrapped until clean Don’t bother with that crap again The taunts they never stop.

The insults continue Hurled throughout the night Jeers and sneers, just creep out Accompanying every snarl. And then the friend told me It’s not you, it’s him All lies to control you Abused to the core. And then on day it happened The voice just came out So, there’s the door, its over Go and leave this house! No more mashed potato That’s totally done for me Jackets; roasts and fried There’s no other way! And stuff your gravy too With granules always hidden Never to be found Just to spite me!

I must be raving mad, Bonkers, lost the plot You can’t find the gravy Its here all along! Those words just echo Through me every day A victim of your

Endless stupid game. No one will ever better you That is totally clear So just sit and enjoy Gravy and mash, alone! Go play your gaslighting Your favourite competition, You are the star performer Champion, you reign!

Freedmum Sarah Antoinette Ball Feb 2021

For many years men have been seen as the strongest sex, that they can do better than any woman, when in fact a woman is totally underestimated. Even down to the fact that a woman is built to carry human life. Take Anne Frank for an inspiration. Wow - women are so strong mentally and I think it’s time women past and present all over the world are recognised for individual, inspirational abilities. A male is stronger built but never underestimate the ability of a woman.

Shame! Shame on you, shame, shame, shame! No, I am NOT to blame, blame, blame! You’re the monster, I know your name! Because of your evil, I will never be the same! I see you, I know you, I deny you – for now and forever As my life, my love, my power I now reclaim! Kim Ward

Don’t Judge Me I might not have as much money as you, that’s because I wasn't allowed. My clothes might not be as nice as yours, my ex picked out my style. My heart is just as big as yours, my smile could light a room. Don't judge me from my outside, you don't know what I've been through. Kirsty Hutchinson

Click on the video to open it on YouTube

The Tough Journey Feeling helpless, down and lonely, I wonder what I've done so wrong? Who do I turn to? What would I say? This is life now, its been so long. I’ve lost myself, I feel so down, I’ll always feel like I am wrong, I’m overpowered, I feel so crushed, unheard and I feel lonely, I ask myself ‘What is my future? How will I ever feel strong?’, I just couldn't see a clear way forward. As days felt long, the nights seemed even longer, My dreams were of me feeling positive and hopeful with a glimmer of a smile, For once I looked happier, I looked brighter and seemed so much stronger, I felt that now was my time. So I found my help, their support and them being there to listen, Took all my courage, my energy and I felt nervous and somewhat anxious, I could speak for once with a glisten.

And in return they gave me confidence, at last my voice was heard, My thoughts and feelings, all flooded out in words, Out it burst from me, with tears in matching flow, It all made sense, it all fit together, piece by piece it really sunk in, I believed in myself, I knew it now that from this moment I would grow. I am a new me now, I am strong and I am free. I’ve come so far, the truth comes out in the end, It was him that was wrong all that time towards me, And now what I feel is so thankful, I will blossom from here, my future will shine. I found myself again, and future self is mine.

Sarah Dunn

Why Didn’t She Leave Sooner? Today I tried to leave. Today he put his children in front of me to explain why I was leaving. He knew I would not do this. Today I did not leave. Today I tried to leave. I packed the essentials and had them in my car. Walking out the door he walked in the door. Anger. Fury. Smashing. Today I did not leave. Today I tried to leave. He blocked the doorway and trapped me inside. Today I did not leave. Today I tried to leave. He loves me, he is going to change. It was just an accident. Today I did not leave.

Today I tried to leave. Chest puffed, shouting in my face. I hide in the spare room. Today I did not leave. Today I tried to leave. A bottle of wine and numerous tablets. I left by ambulance. He came to the hospital. Lies. Home. Today I did not leave. Today I tried to leave. No-one will love you. You are a slut. You are a waste of space. I am the best you will ever get. Belief. Today I did not leave. Today I was brave. Today I was courageous. Today I saved myself. Today I left. But why didn’t you leave sooner they ask. Grace Louise

Choose to Challenge I’m challenging the stereotype of being a single mum. Though sometimes I struggle to walk this path I will still try to run. I may not have a full time job as my young ones need me at home. We don’t have the many fancy gadgets that people normally expect. I prefer to provide them with love and teach them how to respect. I’ve seen the looks of judgement but I’m choosing to ignore. Just because my shoes won’t fit you doesn’t mean I’m worth any less, or more. Kirsty Hutchinson

Dream Baby Dream I can dream. Present time and a future that unfolds, like the wings of a butterfly, never controlled, always free from the brutish and mean.

I can dream. I have faith in myself and now believe, I am worthy, reborn, pure, love I am able to receive, a fresh start so clean.

I can dream. A life in which I no longer hurriedly flee, but flow like a calm river or sea, my fears float away downstream.

I can dream. Holding tight to those dear, snug and secure, with beauty surrounding me I rest now, more, awakening from sleep without screams.

I can dream. Standing against past oppression and despair, found feelings produce words that whisper, through my lips like a wind that’s cool and keen.

I can dream. My face doesn’t uncover or tell my story, I am a closed book to others, mysterious, without a worry, only my colorful outside by them is seen. I can dream, so dream on baby dream.

I can dream. In my hands are the keys to open many doorways, portals to adventure, exciting escapes and places to play, I am throwing them open with great self-esteem.

Emily Rowe

As part of the #DontJudgeMe project, the National Justice Museum and Broxtowe Women’s Project have distributed a “Workshop in an Envelope” to hundreds of families – including instructions and craft items to make your own Worry Doll.

Here are some of the many examples that have been shared with us.

For more information, please visit broxtowewomensproject.org.uk/dontjudgeme

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