Back in the summer I came across a Facebook post from Welsh Women’s Aid advertising a ‘Community Ambassador’ role. Intrigued, I read the advert and had a look what is was about.
Welsh Women’s Aid is a charity that will always be close to my heart. Being a survivor of domestic abuse and having gone through 10 years of it – I thought I’d be able to relate to what they were trying to achieve. I had come out the other side of abuse – I’d gone through the darkest of times at the hands of my youngest daughter’s dad, but I’d also come out the other side – I was one of the lucky ones as I know some women don’t get to do that.
I thought that with what I had gone through, I’d love to be able to help others, So I applied for the Community Ambassador role and looked forward to the 2-day training programme.
The training was so good!
Getting an understanding of the different types of abuse was so insightful – but the thing that got me the most were the statistics – these were shocking, but in a way, they weren’t.
We all know abuse happens, we all know that most of the time it goes unrecorded as its not reported to the police – so knowing the statistics were probably a lot higher was quite hard to comprehend.
Learning that women find it so difficult to report their abuse to the police really resonated with me – I never reported mine so could completely sympathise with how women feel. I also learnt about all the support that is available – there are so many agencies out there in which women can access support should they wish. Knowing that there is a 24/7 Live Fear Free helpline that’s available for everyone, men and women and for practitioners to ask for advice too was good. I’ve now put the helpline stickers up in the toilets of the gym that I run.
I put a post on both my Facebook and Instagram accounts once I had finished the training and became a Community Ambassador. I had two messages from friends within an hour of posting it.
One friend was asking where she can access support – she thought the abuse that she had been through didn’t warrant a call to the helpline – I explained to her that that’s exactly what it’s there for – after talking for a while – she made the call and had a solicitor’s appointment and was put into a support group – she really didn’t know that that level of support was available.
Another friend asked for the helpline number as she had a friend in an abusive relationship and wanted to be a source of support for her when the time came.
There is definitely a benefit to being a Community Ambassador – I now have an understanding of where to signpost people. I have a confidence to be able to speak to women / men going through abuse without having to bring my experience in (unless there is a need for it).
I regularly use my social media platforms to post updates from Welsh Women’s Aid and I am looking to host an event at some point next year.
On the back of leaving my relationship I set up a women’s boxing club called Boxing Pretty – it’s an all-women’s boxing club in which women can come and learn to box. Boxing is an excellent tool to improve mental health and well-being. I found once my relationship had ended I had so much built up anger and frustration and needed a controlled environment to take it out in – boxing and the boxing gym definitely saved me.
I realised if I felt this way – there must be other women out there who feel the same and it turns out there are a lot. From a class of 6 women training once a week – I now have over 30+ women training and 4 classes per week. The class is growing and is such an encouraging and supportive environment for women to train in. Women are encouraged to bring their children along if childcare is an issue – I never want a woman to feel isolated just because they have children. As a single parent I never had people to look after my girls when I needed to train. This takes a barrier away for women – knowing they can bring their children along makes training with us more accessible.
In November I am part of the WOW Festival (Women of the World) this is a festival that is celebrating all things women. There are various performances, plays, talks, panels, arts – it’s a weekend of celebrating women. I am part of a guest panel called Bad Ass Women of Cardiff and get to talk about Boxing Pretty and the life I have lived and how I used a negative experience of abuse and turned it into something as positive as Boxing Pretty.
If you’d like to find out more about the Community Ambassador role – please email: [email protected]