Our Chief Executive, Sue Coleman reflects on the history of West Mercia Women’s Aid and shares her thoughts on White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
“In 2022 we marked our 40th year of providing safe shelter and support for women and children. Forty years ago in Hereford, and across the UK, small groups of ordinary women decided that they could no longer stand by and see other women – sisters, cousins, friends – live in fear of violence and abuse from the men that they lived with. They took risks – begged and borrowed, lobbied and cajoled, drew together a network of support that they then transformed into constituted organisations which raised the resources with which to further develop the support that was then – is still – so desperately needed.
Few would have foreseen that four decades later, as many – if not more – women and children would still need that help and support. That so many would need more than just shelter and advice to recover from the trauma that is inevitable when the person that you love and claims to love you – is then cruel and controlling and underwrites their demands with threats and with physical and emotional abuse.
It is not surprising then that the theme of this year’s White Ribbon Campaign – which marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence – has particular resonance for West Mercia Women’s Aid, as our mission is not just to provide support services but to end domestic abuse and prevent it from happening in the first place. The theme is that of bringing an end to men’s violence against women – something which we can only achieve if we #ChangeTheStory with men themselves calling out and challenging misogynistic attitudes and behaviours and making it socially unacceptable to demean, control and abuse women and girls.
We are looking forward to hearing, during the 16 Days of Activism, from the many men whom we know share our concerns, about the ways in which they will take action to address male violence against women and girls, and bring about an end to domestic abuse.”
Taking place on Saturday, 25 November, White Ribbon Day encourages men and boys in particular to sign a pledge and call out violence against women and girls.
You can show your support by making the promise to ‘Never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women’ – sign the pledge today.