Words on violence against women.

I’m not being specific, I’m not convinced you need me to be. The news the past two weeks has been inescapable.

I’m just going to say, this week has been hard.

I have wanted to speak, yet do not feel I have anything helpful to say. A wise person once told me to “keep the drama on the page” and that has been a struggle in the wake of this week’s call to end to male violence against women.

Everything I have to say is soft, I guess. Too soft. My rage left in the lethargy of my 30’s – it no longer protects me. I just feel deeply sad and deeply tired. Bone marrow tired.

All I can offer is this: it is ok to sleep on the sofa during the day with the lights on.

To those continuing to fight and campaign, thank you and please keep going whilst also remembering to seek comfort and recharge too. Years ago now, I remember sitting on a coach to the Million Women Rise rally in London that my brilliant friend Sameea had arranged. It took months to gather the cash and it took work ontop of day jobs. We looked at each other – tired. I texted her today, still tired. This is a marathon not a race. Sleep when you can, if you can.

To those with their fears dredged up, I’m right with you. Mine are dredged. I find transforming them through a creative task helpful. That and yoga (I know, I know, eye rolls) but it helps me to burn off adrenalin. It’s also why I trained in trauma informed yoga – but that’s a whole other story…

A word on sleep.

For years, I have performed a little mental task before I can sleep. I bring to mind all the women I love, and I paint them with Teflon. The past few days, that has included more and more women. I think it began when a teen. I sometimes street slept, and sofa surfed, and I can remember a homeless woman telling me: “If a car slows down, run. If the police see you, run harder.” For many outsider women, the police behaving badly is not surprising. (Listen, I have no political agenda here, nor axe to grind. I don’t trust axes, politicians, or priests – it’s a personal rule. Life has just taught me that people are people irrespective of their job title.)

Before writing, I was a support worker. I wanted to support change. I believe it is possible. The human capacity to transform is awe-inspiring. Eventually, this led me to grassroots organising and I set up The Women’s Playgroup for women survivors of violence. I eventually ran out of funding – most funding gets sucked into larger organisations (rightly or wrongly. We all know what happens to small grassroots groups.) Anyway, I’ve seen the damage violence does as it seeps through the generations, influencing interpersonal relationships, career prospects, health, parenting, education, housing. It needs to end.

Whether experiencing violence first-hand, or witnessing its effect on a loved one, the damage is monumental. Violence disintegrates inner-peace. Without inner stability (of self or surroundings) what foundations can a person build upon? Some women and their children/families never re-assemble themselves. Their inner landscape changes too much. If this is you, hold tight. You may find ways to steady your new landscape again. Keep breathing. Find small comforts. Know, deep inside, it was not your fault.

So. Like I say. Nothing I say is helpful. I am dredged. All my silt is upon the beach, all the carefully hidden shells stick out at odd angles. I’m pussy-footing around myself.

My wish for you, if on a similar beach, is that you find a way to rest. If at night you can’t sleep, know that I am awake too. Playing with these poor-meaningless-words and painting you in Teflon. May nothing touch you. You are not alone.

Oh and remember, if the night is too dark (even with the lights on) it is ok to sleep on the sofa during the day. Fuck pulling the curtains – tomorrow you can start again.

Need help? Women’s Aid

Need to talk or email someone? Samaritians