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I just wanted to just say a quick few words about this month being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  I actually feel that domestic violence awareness should be every day of our lives because so many, many vulnerable people find themselves in this situation.

You don’t think that you have to be a particularly vulnerable person to find yourself in that environment; it could just happen that somebody lashes out and becomes abusive for any reason - sometimes we don’t know the person that is abusing us until the abuse starts - and it can start off very gently.  It can start off with a nudge, a push, a little slap and it goes from there.  It doesn’t even have to be physical; it can be verbal.  Verbal is just as damaging abuse as physical because they are the things that people hang on to; bruises fade but the things people say stick, and they stick for a long time. 

There are different levels of abuse, different forms of violence, people live in fear of their lives, but also there are levels where people might not be so fearful of their life, but it’s the impact and the knock-on effect that it has on self-esteem and self-worth. 

As a coach, and as a woman, and I know it’s not just women that are abused, I know that it’s control; it’s a learnt behaviour, it’s what they’ve seen, what they’ve been taught - I’m not sticking up for that because there is no place for violence or abuse - help is there.

The first women’s refuge was opened in Chiswick in 1971 by Erin Pizzey, who focused on removing victims of domestic abuse from their abusers and for the first time, someone was saying it was wrong to beat your partner.  It was a time when nobody talked about domestic violence and what on behind closed doors, stayed behind closed doors; society turned a blind eye, but the refuge was a place where women and children flocked to, to find safety and security.

The refuge is now part of Refuge and became a registered charity in 1979.  It supports over 80,000 women and children and in partnership with Women’s Aid, run the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247.  There is also support for men and children and women and children from ethnic communities.

If you are being abused, it may help to remember that you are not alone and you don't have to deal with this on your own; there are organisations that can help Refuge and Women’s Aid.

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