Survivors Supporting Survivors – International Women’s Day 2021

Stories of resilience and advocacy from survivors of domestic abuse – read the voices at the heart of everything we do

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women. This year we are celebrating the inspiring survivors of domestic abuse who use their experiences to enact change, campaign fearlessly and support other survivors.

Every day thousands of women use their experiences and passion to transform the response to domestic abuse. This International Women’s Day we want to recognise and celebrate the incredible work they do. When survivors support survivors we can change the world.

Your voices are at the heart of everything we do.

Together we will end domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.

We have been collecting stories about what it means to survivors to be working to end domestic abuse. They have boldly shared their experiences, how they have used it to push for change, and what Survivors Supporting Survivors means to them.

My journey with Fylde Coast Women’s Aid started as a service user, I came to the Fylde Coast seeking refuge with my three children 22 years ago.

During my time as Service Manager, I steered the organisation through some difficult and challenging times. At times, the only thing that kept me focused and driven was knowing how very important quality specialist services are to adult and child victims of domestic abuse.

My experience of living with and ultimately escaping a violent perpetrator of abuse made me want to ensure other victims received quality help and support.

Tina - Our Star of the Month for September 2020

As someone who was born into domestic abuse, and with a lack of awareness which resulted in me putting myself and my children in danger, I know first-hand how dangerous and toxic domestic abuse is.

Due to my lived experience, I have the knowledge, credibility and empathy to help others. In order to eliminate domestic abuse, we need to talk about it.

Educate bystanders. Provide personalised and quality help for those who experience domestic abuse, make sure there are good services available at the point of need, but also an early intervention where possible.

Shana - Our Star of the Month for February 2020.

My Mum’s murder was so brutal and out of the blue that I didn’t consider it domestic abuse initially.

Mum’s death was the catalyst for my family to wake up to the normalisation of abuse and violence and do whatever it takes to re-learn our ways of relating to one another.

I was the first pioneer in the family, I had to change my outlook and attitude.

Through my work with SafeLives have I gained a greater awareness of the extent of what I’ve been through and how to move beyond it, our work has helped me stay strong and hold true to my values in face of adversity when patterns arise be to overcome.

Today I am a coach and practitioner of Non-violent communication, I am aware of power imbalances and how to deal with them appropriately.

Individually and collectively we are using our experiences to transform our and others lives.

We are a team of devoted, compassionate and powerful humans that support each others growth and transformation, to be the pioneers of our own lives, for me this has been life changing.

I sincerely hope others join us on this profound mission to recognise and end domestic abuse for everyone, once and for all.

Celia - When we launched our #ReachIn campaign last year, they talked about her experience, and the powerful effect reaching in can have.

8 years ago, I became a service user at Foundation as I fled from my partner after 12 years of domestic abuse. During my time at Foundation the support workers helped me build my confidence back up.

This is where my journey began - just over 2 years ago I asked if I could volunteer, and Foundation welcomed me with open arms. The feedback I receive from clients who access the Freedom Program and the clients I help to support in refuge and IDVA is truly amazing.

It is the best part of the job, knowing you have helped someone to safety or are helping them rebuild their life.

Kendra - Our Star of the Month for December 2020

Stories from members of our Scottish Authentic Voice Panel

Working at SafeLives has helped me better understand and process what happened to me. I was so young when I was in an abusive relationship that I didn’t realise it was more than just ‘toxic behaviour’.
Working for SafeLives and helping to raise awareness about the many forms that domestic abuse can take is a privilege.
I hope that someone in a similar situation to the one I was in learns about what constitutes as domestic abuse and is able to become safer, sooner.


Being part of something where I, as a survivor, can help a fellow survivor seems like a no brainer to me.

I feel I have grown in confidence.  Being valued and my opinions listened to is absolutely amazing, as is having the ability to give back in some way.   

Giving me a voice along with my fellow survivors on the AV panel in the hope that we can help fellow survivors is truly positive.  I used to say, "this is my life" I can now say "that was my life"

Scottish Authentic Voice Panel Member 

It feels so good knowing that my little input is helping build a better way of helping survivors. I struggled for years to get any help whatsoever. There was no clear way of contacting anyone and no clear explanation of what types of abuse there was.  

Cedar helped me in realising that it wasn’t just physical abuse but emotional, psychological, and many more, and that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and the blame and guilt belonged with him and not me.  

Finally, on seeing that I could stop carrying it around and finally admit I was a victim.  I want to help survivors find this special place so much earlier than I did. This group is the key to not just surviving but for healing.

Scottish Authentic Voice Panel Member  

Survivors supporting survivors is definitely the best way forward. It’s hard to walk in someone’s shoes when you have no idea of the worry and walking on eggshells and the fear of what will happen if I say the wrong thing.  

This is something that’s very hard to feel unless you have been there. Once you denied these things to your best friend and closest family, but in a room with total strangers you’ve never met, just knowing they have been there, and they won’t judge you, and most of all you understand. It makes it so easy to open up and get out the hurt.  

It’s an incredible emotional journey, but it needs to be with people who genuinely get it as they say. No matter how much support you have it’s always better to know that they truly understand.  

It makes you feel strong and ready to put a stop to this being a taboo subject that’s never discussed due to the shame. Because we weren’t wrong, we just fell in love. We didn’t want to be controlled or manipulated just to be loved back.

 Scottish Authentic Voice Panel Member 

Ask for ‘ANI’

Early in the pandemic our incredible group of Pioneer survivors proposed a codeword to be used in pharmacies.

The ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme has now been used over 45 times since its launch by the Home Office 7 weeks ago.

That is the power of Survivors Supporting Survivors

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