Fatima, a VOICES Trustee and human rights campaigner, describes what makes VOICES a safe space to explore difficult themes.
The fear of not knowing is a concern often raised by individuals before attending any support group. As someone who always likes to know what to expect, I completely relate to this worry. In fact I always end up exclaiming that there was no need for me to be worried in the first place. But unfortunately doubt is progression’s worst enemy, and for some people the uncertainty may be enough for them not take that first step towards seeking help. If you feel like that, hopefully this piece will ease your mind a little. I wrote this short blog piece as an assurance for anyone who may experience the same fear and to highlight that the safe space which exists at VOICES is there to empower and provide positivity.
VOICES carry out community-based recovery and empowerment programmes for women that have experienced domestic abuse. This is provided through the Freedom Programme, Recovery Toolkit and MATES. VOICES also offer 1 to 1 advice and counselling. Moreover, VOICES provide a space for women who have experienced domestic abuse to get the support they specifically need, without judgement or pressure and with confidentiality. This safe space is somewhere where you can share experiences, laugh, cry and speak out.
Safe spaces are ‘safe’ due to stemming from principles such as mutual respect, solidarity and understanding. Everyone within that space is looking for one common thing, somewhere that feels safe. As a result, the space allows you to become vulnerable without worry, to share your truth and find the adequate support you need. Throughout this process, professionals are there to guide you. We also try our best to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Even the safe space itself (the room) is a cosy environment where you can sit and chat over a cuppa.
In particular, if you choose to attend programmes such MATES, you will have the unique opportunity to communicate with fellow women who have experienced and left abusive relationships. Such group settings enable survivors to hear stories which may overlap with their own. More importantly it is an opportunity for you to be heard if you wish to speak openly about your experiences, with individuals who can provide insight on how they overcame similar challenges. As well as being run by survivors, the group offers the chance to socialise, inform, encourage and support one another. Although you may attend your first session nervous, I can guarantee you will leave with several new friends and a brand new support system behind you
I hope this piece has alleviated any worries and encourages you to take the steps towards making a change. It can be difficult taking the plunge and the hardest part is getting there, but once you do, I promise you will not turn back. Also throughout this process, don’t hesitate to pop over an email or give a quick call to VOICES if you have any queries or questions.