I need to blog more. I say this 100 times a year, I know. I have a lot to say but very little time to say it. Not blogging is on my top ten list of stresses (#firstworldproblems). But, now, I need to work. (And therein lies the problem.)
In the meantime, please read Patrick Stewart’s fantastic post in the Guardian: Domestic violence blighted my home. That’s why I support Refuge
I grew up in a home darkened by domestic violence – which I wrote about two years ago. My father was an angry and unhappy man who was not able to control his emotions, or his hands. I witnessed violence against my mother and felt powerless to stop it. When Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, asked me to become a patron, I accepted without hesitation. I accepted for my mother. As a child, there was little I could do to help her. But now I can give support and encouragement to women who live in the same sort of fear that she did.
The impact of these cuts will be devastating. The financial footing of women’s charities has been shaky for many years; now it is in real danger of slipping into the abyss. Let me be quite clear about what is at stake here. Without services such as refuges, more women and children will be trapped in violent relationships. Domestic violence rarely peters out. On the contrary, abuse tends to escalate over time. If they can’t get help – preferably at the earliest opportunity – their stories may well have the most tragic of conclusions.
My mother had no escape route. There were no refuges she could run to; no helplines to call; no advocates to speak out for her. No one came to help, even though everyone knew what was happening behind our closed doors. The small houses in our road were close together, and every Monday morning I walked to school with a bowed head, praying that I wouldn’t run into a neighbour who had heard the weekend’s rows. The police, when they were called, were little help. I remember hearing them say things like “She must have provoked him”, or “Well, Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight”. They had no idea. My mother did nothing to provoke the violence she endured – even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict.