We are grateful to the brave survivors who have shared their personal experiences and insights with us. This group of experts by experience came together and named themselves the SafeLives Pioneers, because they want to use their experiences and passion to change the world.
Their voices inform everything we do, and together we aim to transform the response to domestic abuse in the UK – for every victim and survivor and their children.
Rachel lived with domestic abuse from the age of 21 to 39. Rachel now devotes her time to supporting other victims and survivors. On International Women's Day 2018 Rachel published her book 'The Devil at Home', which tells the story of her experiences and recovery from domestic abuse. Read an extract.
In 2008 Celia's mother Maria Stubbings was murdered by an ex-partner. The man who killed her had a history of violence and domestic abuse. Since her mother’s death Celia has campaigned for a public inquiry into state failings in domestic abuse cases, and promotes healthy relationships education. Celia is also an artist and qualified personal trainer and yoga instructor.
Claire experienced years of emotional abuse and manipulation from her ex-partner. A former translator and journalist, Claire – alongside three other women – went on to found the charity VOICES in Bath, which supports survivors to rebuild their lives. She explains, “We called it VOICES because abuse silences victims, and if you cannot find your voice again, you cannot truly heal”. Read Claire's reflections on what being a Pioneer means to her.
Vicky was a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, coercive control and threatened revenge porn. She now works for the Police working with victims and witnesses of similar offences. She says: ‘It is a privilege to offer help to others who are currently experiencing what I went through. I talk with knowledge and experience of the power domestic abuse has on the mind but with the ability to see a life outside of a controlling relationship. Many women experiencing domestic abuse are unable to see a life without their partner who causes them such pain. I try every single day to give them a glimpse of life without fear with no judgement or pressure one woman at a time.’
Hetti’s best friend Joanna Simpson was murdered by an ex-partner in 2010. Together with Jo’s mother Diane Parkes, Hetti set up the Joanna Simpson Foundation which works to transform the care and support given to children affected by domestic abuse.
As well as our group of SafeLives Pioneers, our work is made possible by all the survivors and people with lived experience who bravely speak up and tell us about the change they want to see.
John & Penny Clough
John and Penny lost their daughter Jane Clough to domestic abuse. John and Penny are now dedicated campaigners to transform the response to domestic abuse. They set up Jane's Place, a refuge for women also experiencing other issues such as mental health concerns and alcohol/drug misuse.
Sarah is a professional woman in her twenties who is now living safely and rebuilding her life after domestic abuse. She believes we need the health sector to play a more active role in raising awareness and keeping women safe. Read more about Sarah's story.
SafeLives is an organisation of around 70 people: there are many survivors and people with lived experience working with us. A number of staff have stepped forward to join our Pioneer group, and all of us work together to ensure that the voices of people with lived experience are at the heart of everything we do.
*Names and some details have been changed for the safety of the survivors and their children