I’ve been an active, noisy patron of WAND, the Women’s Action Network Dorset, since 2011 and have spoken out many times about the plight of those affected by domestic abuse at public events, on the radio and in the press.
In 2014, I had the honourable task of chairing the multi-agency No Excuse for Abuse Conference as part of Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, which was jointly funded and co–hosted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Dorset, and WAND. I met some incredible ladies there including the amazing soul responsible for Eve’s Law; read more here.
I have met lots of women with terrifying domestic violence stories during my time serving WAND and it’s no surprise to learn I’m a strong supporter of the Dorset Women’s Refuge. I do what I can to raise awareness and funds for this vital resource, hence this post.
It’s a sad state of affairs when you learn these vital organisations needs to raise their own funds in order to survive. The government should quite simply fund all safe refuges, countrywide, for women, men and the LGBT community (you wouldn’t believe how scarce these refuges are) allowing any monies the individual organisations manage to raise, to pay for gratefully welcomed treats for the souls who need to use the service.
There are many reasons behind my passion for helping WAND and they are fuelled by a report I read back in 2014 stating that Dorset police had dealt with a case of domestic violence, every hour of the day. Officers received around 700 reports of domestic abuse each month across the county and dealt with more than 36,000 incidents of domestic violence between 2010/14 – that’s crazy.
Domestic violence, or domestic abuse as it is often called, is a broad-brush term for incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviours that often have a terrifying mix of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional elements to them. When you’re in such a relationship, it’s hard to know which way is up, let alone whether there are any organisations who can help you find a safe space to simply breathe.
WAND is a brilliant conduit to a range of safe solutions. Their core team work tirelessly to assist women in need and they are nothing short of amazing. They continue to help countless women and children in crisis in many different ways and it is an honour to bang the drum for them.
A couple of months ago, I ran a workshop as part of Dorset Women’s Week called, ‘Learn to Love the Skin You’re In’. In the blurb it explained that our damaging and disruptive pasts can haunt us for years, leaving us feeling broken, worthless, often believing our bodies and physical appearance have something to do with it.
In the clear thinking light of day of course, that statement is utter rubbish!
My workshop was a radical, revolutionary body confidence event that gently challenged the attendees to look at their body in an empathetic, safe environment and explore a few fun ways to learn to love the skin they were in. It was a fabulous gig and I know it helped everyone to view themselves in a more positive light.
A simple change to the way we look at ourselves can have a profound effect on lifting our disposition and WAND run lots of events that do precisely that. There is a beautiful supportive sisterhood to be found in WAND and I am enormously proud to be a part of what they do.
And finally, following my own tumultuous divorce, I penned a book called, ‘Poetry of Divorce‘, the first in a series of three books on surviving the process with your sanity and a smile. I donate part of the profits to WAND and the Dorset Women’s Refuge and if you are going through that particular nightmare, I have no shame encouraging you to buy a copy of each one – they will help you no end.
‘Poetry of Divorce’ is available to order from all good High Street and online bookshops – click here to Look in the Book and click here to see ‘Diary of Divorce‘, a journal to help both men and women write their way out of their nightmare – they’re cheaper than therapy and better than gin – that’s a fact!
I’ll simply conclude by saying that regardless of how nice a person you are, life showers people with shit-storms indiscriminately. You can let it take you down, or you can fight your way up the other side and the stuff you learn on the journey is often magical and priceless.
If you are able to volunteer for a charitable organisation with a cause close to your heart, I promise you, it has the potential to be one of the most uplifting things you’ll ever do. It can also turn your personal darkness into light. I’m a Trustee for NACOA, The National Association for Children of Alcoholics but I’ll save that little heart breaker for another day.
More About WAND
(Quote from their website)
We have three main strands:
- We recognise that women like to socialise and network but for some, especially older women moving to the area, establishing new friendships can be hard.
- We run social events, such as walks, talks, crafts and frock markets that all women can attend on their own, or with friends.
- Take a look at our events page and join us on one soon!
- While we like having fun, we also recognise that life can be hard for many women through poverty, ill health or domestic violence and abuse.
- We are members of local and national networks and organisations that lobby parliament and campaign for women’s rights. We also organise awareness raising events such as Reclaim the Night, as well as conferences aimed at agencies who deal with women in distress.
- Women are all different; they have a unique range of life experiences and acquire a diverse set of skills along the way.
- Through our network, we draw on these skills and experiences and share them at events such as Dorset Women’s Day.
- You can always seek sisterly advice from our members via our Facebook and Twitter page!
Visit WANDWomen.org.uk for more details.