Supporting women with experience of abuse to tell their stories
I am often told by charity staff that they find it difficult to tell the story of what they do because their work is so sensitive and the people they work with are so vulnerable. Yet if we don’t tell their stories or help to give them a voice how will society know what’s going on?
Throughout my career I have worked to help tell stories about tough social issues. As a reporter/producer for the BBC I worked on campaigns that involved recording the testimonies of people who were dying, interviewed men who had experienced homelessness and worked in refuges training women to keep audio diaries. These projects gave me a valuable insight into the power of storytelling and the importance of supporting people to feel confident to talk about their situation so their story was heard by a wider audience. By doing this were able to raise awareness of an issue and challenge perceptions and stereotypes. I genuinely believe that with the right approach and understanding, no issue area is out of bounds.
When the recent premiere for the film ‘Suffragette‘ was disrupted by the direct action group Sisters Uncut to put a spotlight on the cuts to domestic violence services, the world’s media was watching. The subject got talked about, and issues affecting women and girls need to be talked about.
I was delighted to read recently that the Big Lottery Fund had announced a funding stream for projects that support women and girls and I hope successful organisations will be encouraged to incorporate first hand storytelling into their work.
In the meantime I’m thrilled to be starting a storytelling project working with the Maya Centre, an amazing charity that provides counselling and psychological support to some of the most vulnerable women in our community, women who have experienced domestic violence, abuse in childhood or have experience war and conflict.
I feel a huge sense of responsibility in ensuring the workshops are a positive experience. I know from working on other storytelling projects that women feel empowered when given the chance to speak out. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to work alongside a fantastic organisation supporting women whose stories need to be told.
We’d love to hear how your organisation is using storytelling as part of your work.