Abuse is a term many of us may hear used from time to time, in the news, on TV, or in a working environment. But do we really know what we mean when we talk about abuse...?
Yellow Door were fortunate enough to be invited back to the Ropewalk Centre in Southampton on Friday 3rd August, to deliver a Women’s Workshop on Culture and Abuse. This workshop was developed to cater to women of all ages, ethnicities and diverse backgrounds… and it did! For many of the women who attended, English was not even their first language; however this definitely didn’t discourage them from participating and getting involved.
The workshop began with a welcome from Caroline, our Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy (DIA) Co-ordinator who introduced the topics of the workshop. As an initial ‘ice-breaker’ activity, the women were given a placard on which they wrote who they were and two things they were proud of. As we went round in a group introducing ourselves, this activity really worked in breaking the ice – it was clear that we all had more in common than we first thought!
Our next activity got us stuck in to the topic of the workshop – abuse. Each individual was asked to select an image representing a different form of abuse, and then feedback to the whole group about what this image showed and meant to them. This encouraged the women to begin thinking about the nature of abuse, who it can affect and the various forms abuse can take.
For some women, it also really hit home about some of their own experiences, sparking light of strength; that they had come through a difficult time in their lives.
So, what is abuse?
The workshop then divided into smaller groups, where participants were able to discuss in slightly more depth about what abuse actually is in all its various forms: domestic violence, sexual abuse/violence, emotional abuse, financial/material abuse, neglect. Each group were given two forms of abuse to discuss and then give examples of what the types of abuse may involve. The women were very good at communicating their ideas and showed a good understanding about what abuse was and involved.
Our smaller groups re-joined for the final part of the workshop, which was a presentation by our Diversity and Inclusion Advocates, Caroline and Sujala. Here, they reviewed the definitions of abuse, including looking at the various “hidden” forms that abuse can take. They also explored indicators of abuse, the impact it can have and the support available to those who need it.
The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.'
Abuse can present itself in many forms...
Physical abuse and violence
Sexual abuse and assault
Emotional abuse or coercive control
Online or digital abuse
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Where to go for help?
To end the workshop, the women were told more about the work Yellow Door do, and the help we can provide, with particular focus on the work that the Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy (DIA) team do. DIA was initially launched in 2012 as the ‘BME Project’ but soon changed to the ‘Diversity Project’ which aimed at reaching out to minority groups, communities and individuals. DIA work to support anyone at risk or affected by abuse, who may otherwise experience barriers to accessing appropriate support. This may be to those who:
Identify with a minority religious, cultural or ethnic group
Do not speak English as a first language
Have a disability (learning or physical)
Identify as LGBTQ+
Are from migrant communities, also including asylum seekers and refugees
May have experienced trafficking
Experience mental health difficulties
To finish off...
Hearing the opinions and feedback of participants is a tremendously important part of all DIa workshops. At the end of the session, we sought suggestions for the future and asked the women who attended what they would be taking away from the workshop as well as fill out feedback forms. The response we received was very positive and we were encouraged to return, to deliver more workshops on like issues, perhaps directing them more towards issues relating to:
Despite the initial uneasy feeling of communication difficulties because most of the women did not have English as a first language, all the women participated and contributed amply and left with a greater understanding of what constitutes abuse, feeling somewhat liberated and confident on how to approach the future - A huge thank you to all who attended! We look forward to going back and delivering more workshops again soon.
If you have any suggestions or ideas for Yellow Door workshops throughout the community, then please get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!
Image courtesy of Dawid Zawila