If you follow me on social media you will probably already know that for the first 6 months of the sales of Nothing to Hide, 10% of profits will be donated to the charity Womens Aid. I have chosen to do this because, although it was over 10 years ago that they did I will never forget how they helped me in what was one of the worst periods of my life. So I thought I would write a blog post to detail how they helped me and what they do as a charity.
Womens Aid are a non-profit organisation that predominantly aim to help women that are victims of domestic abuse. You can find their values here. There are a number of ways they can provide help and support for victims and their children. This help ranges from advice and support for victims detailing how to stay safe right the way up the chain to working towards changing laws and legislations to better protect victims.
Womens Aid became involved in my situation at the request of Child Protection Services. It was at the point when police were constantly being called out to my house whenever my ex turned up uninvited (which was near enough every day). My situation was quite unique as the house I was living in at the time, I actually owned so they couldn’t rehouse me to somewhere I would be safer because he had no legal right to live in that house with me.
So Womens Aid referred me to a local charity that they work in conjunction with and they sent out a IDVA (independent domestic violence advocate) to assess how they could make my existing home safer. I will admit I was pessimistic. I didn’t see what a charity that ran a call centre and rehoused the worst cases could do for me. But the charity really do go above and beyond to provide the support that victims need.
In my own situation, my ex was turning up at my house daily. He had broken into the house once via the kitchen window at the front of the house, and attempted to break in another time via the patio door at the back of the house. He broke the lock on the patio door in the process. Womens Aid knew that phone calls to the police relating to my address were put on rapid response – meaning the police would send attendance out immediately should I call in via 999. So the charity offered to help make my house more secure.
They called out a locksmith who fixed the lock on the patio door. My ex tried to break the lock off using a rock to smash through it. They also provided motion sensor lighting for outside the front and back doors to the house. They managed to have my front door replaced, too. After my ex moved out my step dad had added extra locks to the front door but Womens Aid were concerned with the amount of glass panels that the door consisted of. So they replaced the wooden door (glass panels all over the top half) with a PVC door.
At the time, I felt like a sitting duck in my house. My ex knew where I was. He knew how to reach me. I was a constant wreck waiting for him to turn up and the next time I would have to deal with calling the police out and going through giving a statement. I felt like such an inconvenience to everybody on a daily basis. I felt like I was draining resources constantly and there were probably more important call outs for the police to attend. I felt that if I actually were to leave the house, I was easily accessible. I felt vulnerable and like I constantly had a target on my back.
Further down the line Womens Aid were also aware that I was going through family court proceedings. The IDVA that arranged the safe-proofing of my house was able to provide further support around this, too. We worked together to collect records of the domestic abuse I had been through.
I was so grateful for the help that Womens Aid provided – and in all honesty I didn’t expect that they would be able to help as they did. For anybody who feels they may benefit from receiving help from the charity, you can reach out to them here. I still remember the name of my IDVA, and how she went to great lengths to help me.