Tuesday 29th November 2011
Since one in four British women now experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives, the UCKG HelpCentre supported this year’s UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by focusing on what constitutes abuse and how to deal with it.
Under the title Break the Silence. End the Violence, activities comprised an awareness raising march and conference. Three groups of silent, masked women walked from Finsbury Park to Holloway, Angel and Green Lanes representing abused women who are too fearful to stand up against their abusers. On their way around the marchers were stopped many times to talk with members of the public who asked questions and sought advice.
With well over 300 people in attendance, the conference that followed learnt about the effects of mental and physical abuse on women’s well-being; the nature of a supportive relationship and how to recognise abuse and differentiate it from normal behaviour.
The presenters were Christoulla Boodram, Lisa Hodgkinson and Samantha Dixon of the DKW show on My Channel – Sky 219 every Sunday, and guest presenter Gemma Leon from the Sisterhood. Guest speakers were Natalie Collins, the development officer of Restored, an international Christian charity fighting violence towards women and Debbie Birkbeck who coordinates the NIA Project in Hackney. In addition Maria Constant who volunteers at the RAHAB (Removing All Hurt And Abuse) group told how she overcame an abusive relationship and re-built her life.
Three key messages emerged from the presentations. Firstly that abuse destroys women’s self-worth, confidence and ability to reach their full potential. “Abuse imprisons women in fear and causes them to become second class citizens in their own lives,” said Gemma Leon. “We marched to raise awareness and save numerous women who are screaming for help, with words that can’t even be uttered.”
The second message is that any and every form of abuse is intolerable – whether it is verbal, financial, sexual or physical. Abuse does not have to be violent; it is just as abusive for a man to be manipulative, to turn children against their mother or to prevent a woman from working or having her own friends.
Women should understand that abuse is never their fault and regardless of social, economic or any other stress related factor is never deserved. It is important that women are re-educated to challenge such harmful concepts as being in a bad relationship is better than being single.
Gemma adds: “Women must understand that love shouldn’t hurt or cause emotional damage, or require them to walk on eggshells in fear of upsetting their partner. Love is not about fear or put-downs, it is a matter of respect, sharing and friendship.”
Speaking from experience, the presenters emphasised that it is not easy to flee an abusive relationship and sometimes the very thought of walking away is unbearable. That is why it is so important for women in this situation to recognise that they are not alone and to seek help.
The final message was that there is a way out and lives can be fully restored when an abused woman recognises the situation and seeks help in dealing with it. The conference concluded by providing practical guidance on how to spot an abuser, crucial information on organisations that can help and advice on how to escape an abusive relationship.
The survivors’ experiences were heart wrenching and the question and answer session that followed allowed the audience to participate, with some writing down questions they did not have the courage to voice. Ongoing support is available through the RAHAB Group at the UCKG HelpCentre in Finsbury Park.
Notes to editors
UCKG is a Christian church and registered charity that offers a range of practical support activities alongside spiritual support and comfort. It reached the UK in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength, providing support and spreading the Christian faith. There are 36 UCKG HelpCentre branches in England and Wales.
For further information please contact the UCKG HelpCentre Press Officer via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7686 6033.