Tonight, in Surrey, there will be a woman who is scared to go home. For her, what lies behind their front door is intimidation, threats, degradation, isolation, harassment and violation, maybe even physical harm.
Domestic abuse is a major social issue. 1.2 million women will experience it every year, yet for many of us, it can seem a million miles from their own lives. That is because abuse is often hidden behind closed doors, and myths and misunderstandings can make people fearful to speak out; and for those that find the courage, the myths can mean they are met with disbelief, blame or dismissal. But a poor response is not just unhelpful, it can stop a woman from reaching the help she needs. With two women a week in England and Wales killed by their partner or ex-partner, that can be lethal.
That is why Women's Aid is running free training for anyone who wants to break the silence on domestic abuse. We want to make sure that the first time a woman speaks out about abuse, she is heard, believed and guided towards the specialist support she needs to regain her independence.
Our scheme, 'Change that Lasts' will offer training for anyone, men and women, to become Community Ambassadors. Ambassadors will learn to understand domestic abuse and why it happens, how to respond when someone talks about it, and where to direct people for expert support. They will be asked to talk about domestic abuse in their community; where they work, play, live, learn, worship or network - whether it's over a coffee with a friend, at their work team meeting or posting on social media. They will also help raise awareness of domestic abuse and present themselves as someone who will understand, meaning survivors will be more likely to open up to them.
Anyone can sign up to be a Community Ambassador, after the training, the time commitment is as much or as little as you can. Learning about domestic abuse is a life skill and can help make a real difference to the people around you. If you would like to be a part of the scheme you can sign up by contacting Zoe Snelgrove on 07769 322 104, or email Zoe Snelgrove