Violence against women is an issue of pandemic proportions, affecting women and children globally. It is estimated that around 3 million women across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, stalking, sexual exploitation, trafficking and other forms of violence every year. This is equivalent to the population of Wales. The covid-19 pandemic has only intensified this issue, with movement restrictions leading to isolation and entrapment with abusers, and economic stress potentially exacerbating existing violence. Since the beginning of lockdown, Refuge reported a 950% increase in visits to its website and Hestia have seen a 47% increase in victims reaching out for information and support. Women’s Aid have continued to offer their critical 24/7 helpline throughout the pandemic and its local branch, Cardiff Women’s Aid, have developed their tech support to offer alternatives for contacting the charity during lockdown. Support is now accessible via text, webchat, email or video-chat, the contact details for which are included below.
For many, this has opened up a much-needed conversation about domestic abuse in the UK. There has been a national push to develop ‘safe spaces’ for sufferers of domestic abuse, a prime example being Boots Pharmacy consultation rooms being used as a space for victims to access support and contact helplines. Tesco Supermarket have also circulated the number for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on their receipts. These actions are in direct response to the awareness raised by domestic abuse charities about the added risk the pandemic has brought to the lives of victims. It is important that we carry this conversation forward and continue to actively support and advocate for sufferers of domestic abuse.
In recognition of this, Cardiff Women’s Aid are carrying on the conversation and launching a new social media campaign #IStandWithSurvivors. The campaign aims to encourage members of the community to become active bystanders, providing them with the courage and tools to ‘reach in’ to survivors and show their solidarity and support. Getting involved with the campaign involves three simple steps:
- Construct your #IStandWithSurvivors sentence, giving a reason why you stand with survivors or sharing some important statistics. An example sentence could be ‘#IStandWithSurvivors because… their stories need to be heard’.
- Write your sentence in a bold pen and head to your doorstep.
- Hold your sentence up and proudly take a snap!
You can further support the campaign by sharing the posts with your online community and encouraging family, friends and businesses in your local community to get involved. The campaign is supported by domestic abuse survivors, and a number of Cardiff-based businesses such as Authentic House.
Welsh Women’s Aid have also created a ‘bystander toolkit’, offering helpful tips for creating safe spaces in our homes and workplaces, ensuring we are showing solidarity with survivors through our actions. These include listening to and believing survivors and acknowledging and validating their experiences. Showing your solidarity and support through getting involved with the #IStandWithSurvivorsCampaign would be a wonderful place to start.
We’re also looking for audio or video clips (no more than 50 secs) focusing on:
- Stories from survivors on how someone standing with them helped
- Stories of how you stood with a survivor and supported them
- Tips from the toolkit here which you identify with and would like to share If you have any questions about getting involved, email SHOUT@cardiffwomensaid.org.uk
You can access the full bystander toolkit via the Welsh Women’s Aid website.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or violence, you can access support via Cardiff Women’s Aid:
Call us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on 029 20460566
Text us, Monday to Friday, 9am-7pm and weekends, 9am-4:30pm on 07727 462793
Our webchat is available Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm, at rise-cardiff.cymru
You can arrange a convenient time for a video chat by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – you can also use this email address to access support via email if you would prefer.