AMANDA FERGUSON in Belfast
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Silent treatment hurts
But love - love doesn’t hurt
Women’s Aid ‘Hear Her Voice’ project capturing the experience of domestic abuse survivors in Northern Ireland launches today.
November 25th, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and the start of the 16 Days of Action.
Women’s Aid are calling out to everyone during these 16 days of action “to raise awareness of the key issues aroundviolence against women and girls, with the hope that we can together create a country where women and girls are safe from harm”.
Monica McWilliams commented on the Hear Her Voice project:
“A lot has happened on domestic violence since ‘Bringing It Out In The Open’ was published back in 1992, but we still need to make this a key priority given the harm caused to women’s lives and livelihoods.”
The ‘Hear Her Voice’ project captured the experiences of survivors of domestic abuse, through focus groups with women engaged in the eight Women’s Aid groups across Northern Ireland.
Survivors shared their stories of domestic abuse and its lasting impact on their lives, families, and future by words, song and creative art.
The common themes identified by these survivors, or ‘experts-by-experience’ have been captured and presented in a diverse range of creative resources that will be shared at the event including art, photography, a website, a creative writing book and the ‘Hear Her Voice’ book. This features survivors’ voices and the learning from the project. The Hear Her Voice choir’s recording of their song ‘Hear My Voice’ will also premiere at the launch.
John Healy, Vice President and Managing Director, Allstate NI, said: “At the start of 2021 Allstate, embarked on an ambitious 3-year partnership with Women’s Aid to help them in their work to end domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.
“In this short space of time, many milestones have been achieved and I am delighted to see the impact of this partnership – art therapy classes for survivors, mentoring Women’s Aid leaders, learning and development sessions, building a website, fundraising and now the launch of the ‘Hear Her Voice’ project. This collaboration would not have been possible without the support of our employees who have volunteered their time and shared their skills and knowledge. I can’t thank them enough.
“Lifting the veil on this issue and hearing the voices of these survivors, is a move towards a future without Domestic Abuse. Domestic Abuse is a societal issue that has far reaching impacts – it is everyone’s responsibility to get involved and Allstate Northern Ireland is incredibly proud to be part of this. Out partnership demonstrates the impact business and charities can have on society, even during a global pandemic.”
91 women from across Northern Ireland contributed to the ‘Hear Her Voice’ project.
Sarah Mason, CEO, Women’s Aid Federation paid tribute to all involved in the project.
“I am so proud to see the valuable work from this project being launched today, especially as the project, which was kindly funded by Comic Relief at the start of the first lockdown and faced potential delay due to Covid 19. But by pure determination, commitment and creativity Women’s Aid rose to the challenge and the project was successfully rolled out and exceeded all original aims and outcomes”.
While it is impossible to sum up their stories, women highlighted the following issues
All forms of domestic abuse, including non-physical forms of coercive control, have a long lasting and traumatic impact upon survivors and their children.
After they leave, survivors and their children are often subject to a range of post-separation abuse, including, but not limited to financial abuse, physical and virtual stalking, protracted child contact disputes and protracted litigation.
There is often failure to recognise domestic abuse as a gendered crime.
The trauma domestic abuse causes can be long lasting and agencies working with survivors and their children need to recognise this.
As domestic abuse affects a woman’s total well-being, agencies must work in a joined-up way to effectively support survivors and their children.
Women and children affected by domestic abuse are more than just survivors, they are ‘experts-by-experience’ whose voices need to be at the centre of all conversations about domestic abuse, and all efforts to end violence against women and girls.
The project’s findings, along with its creative outputs, can be found at www.womensaidni.org:
Support and information are available at:
• www.womensaidni.org including information on thelocal Women’s Aid centres covering all of Northern Ireland• To contact police, call the non-emergency ‘101’ number or call ‘999’ in an emergency. There is a Silent Solutions Service which enables a 999 caller who is too scared to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted.
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