‘The Women’s Refuge taught me that I was never a victim’

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A SURVIVOR of domestic abuse has opened up about her traumatic experiences to promote support for Jersey Women’s Refuge.

Speaking at an event at the Grand Jersey Hotel on International Women’s Day, Karina [not her real name] spoke about the physical and emotional abuse she had endured in past relationships and the support she received from the charity.

She recounted an incident in 2008 when her then-partner of six years smashed a bottle on her foot, resulting in the need for ‘major’ surgery.

‘After being in hospital for four days, a social worker arranged for us to move into the Jersey Women’s Refuge.

‘When we walked through the door I was weak, I was broken, I was terrified and so very lost. I had a cast on my foot, I was on crutches and I had two small children,’ she said.

‘I was shown so much compassion and empathy, I had never experienced anything like this in my life. The team put me back together piece by piece and I started to regain my confidence as a mother and as a woman.

‘I was once part of the statistics and I was a victim of abuse at the hands of the man who I loved the most. Jersey Women’s Refuge taught me that I was never a victim – my children and I are survivors,’ she added.

Speaking to the JEP, she encouraged people to sign up to the refuge’s ‘21K Club’ initiative, which is seeking 21,000 Islanders to set up a direct debit of £10 a year or more.

‘I’m not sure how much it costs to keep that place up and running but it must be a hell of a lot. That is why we need people’s commitment,’ she said.

Victoria College headmaster Gareth Hughes spoke about the school’s ‘exciting’ new partnership with the JWR and how it was engaging with students to educate them on the issue of domestic abuse.

He said: ‘If we help develop emotional intelligence, we give boys the best chance to free themselves of toxic expectations and give girls the best chance to have their voice, roles and achievements raised to the level they absolutely need to. We should be reinforcing the point that male vulnerability, emotion and openness are welcomed, as is openly talking about problems rather than internalising, suppressing and waiting for anxieties, anger and frustration to emerge unhealthily, sometimes through violence.’

Head boy Ben Godel highlighted some of the steps being taken by the school, including the introduction of a joint-student forum with Jersey College for Girls and peer-education projects focusing on men’s mental health.

Also in attendance was St Martin Constable Karen Shenton-Stone, who successfully brought an amendment to last year’s Government Plan setting aside £200,000 for a taskforce and research into sexual and domestic violence in the Island.

‘We need to build a society where women do not have to worry about abuse,’ she said. ‘This is an issue too important to be waved away or ignored.’

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