Leeds Women’s Aid

Leeds Women's Aid

On Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to be invited to an event called The City Girls. You may have noticed this as I serious over-spammed Twitter and Instagram with photos of the lovely treats we had and the lovely people I met. Of course, all that will follow in later blog posts but I wanted to start off with a more serious post. This won’t be my usual tongue in cheek style and nor is it sponsored (just in case any nosy SEOs are checking my page out), but stick with me.

Leeds Women’s Aid is a charity which helps women who a victims of domestic abuse. Suzie who volunteers for Leeds Women’s Aid came in to tell us all about it. She has been a victim of domestic abuse herself and truly opened our eyes to how terrible it is. When she asked the room how many people knew someone who had suffered from domestic abuse and it was a majority. And you know what? That’s terrifying.

Domestic abuse isn’t limited to a man hitting a woman, as it is often thought of. Firstly, both men and women can experience domestic abuse from a partner of either gender and secondly, there are many other types that you may not even think of as being ‘abuse’.

The Home Office describes domestic abuse as the following:

"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

• psychological
• physical
• sexual
• financial
• emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

Domestic abuse is a terrible thing, but why does it happen? It is the abusers’ desire to have power and control.

The following has been taken from the Women’s Aid website and covers the signs of domestic abuse:

Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening

Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.

Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people, not listening or responding when you talk, interrupting your telephone calls, taking money from your purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.

Breaking trust: lying to you, withholding information from you, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.

Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.

Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.

Threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children.

Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.

Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.

Domestic abuse is a crime and the help is available.

Leeds Women’s Aid is a local charity who aims at helping local women get out of terrible situations and they do some absolutely incredible work.

If you are being abused, I am begging you to speak up and ask for help.

If you think you know someone is being abused, ask for advice. Contact them and find out how best to help. I’m not expert but these people really are and you will be able to help someone get out of a horrific situation.

The Leeds Women’s Aid website can be found here.

They have a 24hr freephone number which you can contact them on for help: 0808 2000 247

They also have an email address if you cannot call: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

If you do need to email them, please specify when it is a safe time for them to respond to you and to which email address.

For men who are being abused or have been abused, please seek help. The following resources are there to support you.

Survivors supports male rape and sexual abuse victims. Contact them by telephone on: 020 3598 3898.

Men’s Advice Line is for men who are suffering from domestic violence and abuse. Contact them by telephone on: 080 801 0327.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and nobody should stay in that situation.

Leeds Women’s Aid do a fantastic job in my local city to support women and I urge you to support them. At The City Girls, we raised £240 in a raffle for them which will go a long way (especially as Aviva will be matching that too!), but if you ever see anyone doing a sponsored event for them or a collection bucket when you’re out and about, please, spare what you can.

I hate to say this but you never know when it could be you or a loved who needs their help so give generously.

To donate, please follow this link: https://localgiving.com/charity/leedswomensaid

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