16 days of activism
During the 16 days of activism we will be amplifying the voices of women from across the UK who are taking action and providing support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse to make changes in their lives.
We wanted to recognise the activism and commitment of women working and volunteering in frontline services, whose organisations are supported by Comic Relief.
CEO, Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS)
“I would like people to understand that rape and abuse is about power and control, not sex, and that it can happen to anyone no matter your age, race or social status.”
Claire runs Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support in Bristol.
Organisations like hers, SARSAS(opens in new window), exist to be there for women and girls, to provide the support they need to heal, recover, and thrive.
Claire believes: "being listened to, believed and given a space to process the impact of rape and sexual abuse is the thing that makes the biggest difference to women and girls that have experienced it".
“Domestic abuse thrives on silence, so there is pride every time we speak about domestic abuse or bring it to the forefront.”
Roisin works at Solace(opens in new window), London. Roisin is immensely proud to be standing in a long tradition of activists, survivors and workers who have fought for our liberation and continue to fight for safety and services.
Roisin wishes people know that domestic abuse can happen to anyone. The oldest survivor the project she works on has supported is 103. Domestic abuse has no age limit.
Shakti Women’s Aid
“Whenever a woman went back to her abusive relationship, it left me feeling helpless and angry about the inhumane immigration rules that pose a huge barrier for women who want to leave their abusive relationships.”
Girijamba is the Manager at Shakti Women's Aid(opens in new window) in Edinburgh and has been working with women affected by domestic violence for 26 years (22 years at Shakti).
Girjamba wishes everyone knew that BME and migrant women have additional barriers imposed by inhumane/unfair immigration rules, this means they may need additional support to leave an abusive relationship and not go back .
Programme Manager, MATTA, Women in Prison
“More than 2 women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner in the UK. I have worked with women experiencing abuse for over 15 years and yet that statistic still shocks me.”
Hannah manages the Manchester-based women's centre, MATTA, which is part of the national organisation Women in Prison(opens in new window).
Hannah has worked with women experiencing abuse for over 15 years and is still shocked by the horrific statistics.
Hannah wishes people knew that NO ONE deserves to experience abuse! Abuse is never right, and never the fault of the victim.
“Once you start unravelling patriarchy, it’s insidiousness becomes so clear that it’s impossible not to be restless and angry. Together, we all have our parts to play to tear down the structures of misogyny.”
Hera is the founder of CHAYN(opens in new window) in London.
She uses her restless energy about domestic violence to create networks of support for people experiencing gender-based violence.
Hera believes that survivors of abuse need us to: hold space for their experiences, support them the way they ask us to and never judge them. Practise solidarity!
Loretta & Myra, Birmingham & Solihull
“When we started volunteering for Women’s Aid we did not realise there was such widespread abuse amongst the older women. This has been very important to us to highlight this. We feel passionate in taking this forward”
Loretta and Myra volunteer at Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid(opens in new window).
Loretta and Myra came to this work later in life and they are proud to have been given the opportunity, as older volunteers, to make a difference to older women who need support.
Loretta and Myra wish that women of all ages to come forward and enage and engage with organizations like BSWA so they can live their lives without fear of abuse for themselves and their children.
Women's Own Project
“By creating characters for theatre performances, women feel protected to air their opinions and lift the lid on their tough realities. They are in control of what they want to share.”
Elly works at the Citizens Theatre(opens in new window), Glasgow, her main focus is working in the community with women's groups.
The Women's Own Project, nurtures the development of creative skills and self-confidence in an inclusive environment for at risk women.
Theatre performances are written and performed by women, giving them the opportunity to share experiences, lift the lid on their tough realities helping them to take control of and rebuild their lives.
““Why doesn’t she just leave” is fundamentally the wrong question. What we should be asking is “why are they abusive and why, as a society, are we allowing this to happen?””
Steph is the Director of Birmingham LGBT(opens in new window) and has worked on social justice issues for over 25 years.
Steph wishes more people working with victims of domestic violence were aware of the prevalence of domestic violence in same sex relationships and did not assume heterosexuality.
Wild Young Parents Project
“Survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence must be heard, respected, believed and statutory funding should be in place for any survivor to access support”
Kym works for the WILD project in Cornwall.
After 25 years working in this field, Kym is still passionate about taking action, as not enough has changed.
Kym wishes that people were more knowledgeable about abuse so that they felt brave enough to ask the questions that may help someone disclose and then get support.
“I want to reassure survivors of domestic abuse that we are here to help and that perpetrators of this horrific crime are aware that we will not tolerate domestic abuse of any kind.”
Emma is a Detective Chief Inspector of West Mercia police, who works with the DRIVE project in Worcestershire.
She developed, with others, a Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Panel so that perpetrators can be identified and multi-agency responses put in place.
We disrupt perpetrators behaviour, and we put the appropriate resources in place to support behavioural change. Importantly, we support the victims, survivors, including children through the multi-agency response. We are utilising a multi-agency programme to try to change the behaviour and to support those affected by it.
Women's Own Project
“Co-designing solutions with women who experience abuse is empowering. Instead of thinking of them as powerless, we give them the platform to design what could help them.”
Dina is MENA lead at CHAYN, in London (chayn.co(opens in new window))
She creates opportunities for elevating the voices of migrant women and refugees and co-designing digital services with them. For the past two years, Dina was working on Soul Medicine, a platform providing micro-courses or pathways on key topics that help survivors on the path to recovery (Soulmedicine.io(opens in new window))
Dina wishes people know that there is no "perfect victim" or one way of dealing with trauma. Some take more time to accept that domestic abuse is happening to them and as a friend/family we have to be supportive and ready to listen. You can't judge women for not reporting or leaving early.
“Society’s failure to respond to the perpetrator and hold them to account can be seen as a collective and pervasive collusion in abuse.”
Kyla is Director of the National Drive Programme.
She has worked for women's social justice for 25 years.
Kyla wishes people understood the degree to which victims/survivors are held responsible for their situation, whilst so little, if anything, is expected from the perpetrator.
Jill, Hull & East Riding
“I wish people could see how prevalent abuse is and how it often goes unchallenged because we do not see it as abuse, especially if the abuser does not fit the normal profile.”
Jill manages programmes to end domestic violence at Together Women in Hull and East Riding.
She has fought to ensure that locally there is the right support to help women address all the issues associated with their domestic abuse, as well as the abuse itself.
She wishes people knew that victims who have additional issues, such as an offending background, or mental health issues or substance abuse issues struggle to break free from their perpertator. Their deaths are often recorded as suicide, or substance related. The domestic violence is frequently unrecorded in official statistics
Tina, Manchester/ Lancashire
“Each time a woman goes out to work on the street her safety is at risk. Working on the frontline opened my eyes to how precarious these women’s lives were and how being on the street left them open to abuse and exploitation.”
Tina works at Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH)
For almost two decades, She has been supporting female sex workers.
Tina is astounded that we are losing women’s refuges. She believes we need refuges that are a one stop shop and have programmes of activities that support and enable women to regain their identity and recover from their trauma.
Staffordshire Women's Aid
“The harm caused by violence and abuse is never acceptable, and I believe it is everybody’s business to change things.”
Dickie runs Women's Aid in Staffordshire
She has worked in the domestic violence sector for over 25 years, first as a volunteer, then becoming a support worker, and now as a CEO.
She wishes people better understood that victims of abuse are never to blame or responsible for the abuse they have suffered.
“As a volunteer, committed to empowering the women I work with, it is important that I challenge the myths around gender-based violence.”
Helen volunteers at Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services, in Exeter.
She works on the anonymous helpline and email support. She also works with women one to one, as a specialist support worker focused on recovery and empowerment.
Helen also works at the University of Exeter using research to explore the ways that education can be a powerful tool for challenging myths about gender-based violence.