Finding Our Voice

by Alison Manning in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

£1,270

£2,500 target 17 days left
50% 34 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 10th November 2021 at 12:00pm

A free group coaching course for women who have experienced abuse to create a life free from the seen and unseen damage of men’s violence.

by Alison Manning in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

October is Domestic Violence Month? 

With violence against women being so much in the news all around the world, Coaching for Women gives you an opportunity to support women who have experienced abuse in a very practical and direct way. 

What we will do: 

Finding Our Voice is a FREE group coaching course. It will offer a safe space for women who have experienced  abuse in their lives to share their thoughts and feelings, be listened to and find new responses. They will have the chance to find their own voice, to discover what it sounds like, what it really wants to say and what changes they can create in their lives.  

  • There are many services which support women who have experienced abuse, while they are in crisis. But what happens when the crisis is over? What support is there for them in the years to come? 
  • The threat of physical or mental abuse or violence may be gone, but what are the women left with?  
  • How much of the impact of that violence or abuse do women carry deeply within themselves?

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How many women experience abuse in their lives? 

In London, in March 2021 the murder of Sarah Everard hit the headlines. Many of us asked ourselves the question, “Has anything changed? It seems male violence against women is just as prevalent as it was years ago.” In fact, some of us might think, it is worse. 

1 in 3 women in the UK will experience abuse in some form in her lifetime.

This year, in London alone, there were 88,000 cases of domestic abuse and over 20,000 of sexual violence recorded. Domestic Violence incidents have risen in London between 6-9% during Covid 19.  

".. epidemic of violence against women and girls and tackling such violence should be as much a priority as counter-terrorism". Quote from the report by the Police Watchdog - H.M. Inspectorate of Constabulary September 2021

What can be done about this? 

Coaching for Women will run an 8-week online coaching course this autumn 2021, using a group coaching model to bring women together in a safe and confidential space to explore these and other relevant questions. Benefits gained by participation in the group will include: 

  • Understanding how the impact of abuse has led women to compromise and limit themselves in their lives. 
  • Discovering new perspectives, thinking in a new way.
  • Beginning to make different choices in their lives without fear, guilt or shame.
  • Being able to share their story with other women who have had similar experiences?
  • Finding their voice and being confident to use it.

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Imagine how you would feel if you had these thoughts running through your head. 

  • Will I ever feel safe to trust?  
  • I learnt ways to stay safe, but now I’m just so defensive.
  • How much am I still adapting in my life? 
  • I feel ashamed, fearful or guilty so much of the time. 
  • I’m so easily triggered. 
  • Who will listen to my story?  
  • What is the price of my silence?

    During each weekly session a particular theme of abuse will be investigated, including shame and blame; learning to speak out; how to address conflict through learning different ways of communication; practices to develop and strengthen inner resources.

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Coaching for Women CIC  

A CIC is a Community Interest Company, a non-profit organisation which provides services to the local community. 

Alison Manning has been providing FREE group coaching to women in East London since 2018. Why free? Coaching is a powerful tool in supporting people to change their lives,  yet so often only accessible for those who can afford it. Alison wanted more women to be able to benefit from coaching. She is an experienced coach specialising in working with women’s groups. She will lead this group of women on a journey of investigation and discovery, working together to find new perspectives and more choices in their lives.   

Coaching for Women CIC has empowered more than 250 women to make real changes in their lives that have included finding confidence, meaning and purpose, advocacy skills and a real sense of being part of their local community. During these workshops or courses many women mentioned abuse that had affected their lives. Sadly, there are so few places where they can share these stories or speak without being judged. There is still so much silence, so much being carried by the woman alone.

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What will your money enable Coaching for Women to do?   

If we can raise £2,250 the CIC will be able: 

  • To run the free 8-week course. 
  • To evaluate and monitor the impact of the course to help with future grant applications, which will enable us to run ongoing courses  
  • To research and develop further course content. 
  • To support networking with local agencies to maximise the reach of the project. 
  • To provide resources needed to fully support the course attendees. 
  • To cover administration and overhead costs.

    Your generosity will fund this 8-week online course for 15 women to attend 8 weekly sessions of 3 hours. A donation of £150 would fund one woman attending the 8-week course, or three people  donating £50 each would do the same.  

Now is your moment to donate. 

Any woman who has experienced male abuse will resonate deeply with the issues raised here.  You will know what you have had to deal with, the demons from the past, the learnt behaviours, the ways you adapted to stay safe. Please help support other women to find their voice and be free from these limitations.  

To the men reading this, please try and put yourself in the shoes of the woman who has experienced abuse. Think about the pain of that experience and the lasting effects. Now is your chance to do something, to help women FIND THEIR VOICES.  

The Need within the Community

Connection and support from Local Agencies - testimonies from local community leaders.  

        There is a great need in our borough (Waltham Forest in East London) for the courses and groups like Finding Our Voice, where these women are given time, space and the right support to regain the confidence and empower themselves to pursue a better and more hopeful version of the future. I am confident that Waltham Forest Social Prescribing service consisting of 12 Social Prescribers, can connect a great number of women to Alison’s courses over the coming year.  Barbora Ertlova, Social Prescribing Team Leader, Waltham Forest

Testimony from Aliya Iqbal Founder and CEO of Revert 2 Reality - Muslim Community Centre based in Waltham Forest
        Alison's unique Coaching has been a huge success at the R2R Wellbeing Centre. Our ladies thoroughly enjoyed Alison’s friendly, open, non-judgemental and fair approach. With many taboos and underlining issues Muslim women face in their personal lives, family, marriages and mental wellbeing, Alison was a ray of inspiration and hope for the women who attended her workshops and courses. We hope Alison is able to hold many more workshops in the future with our Charity.

Why is Alison Doing this Now? 

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In March this year Alison wrote a blog about her experience of domestic violence (see below). She shared this blog with many women friends and colleagues which led to some very rich and insightful conversations about male abuse. Many stories were shared, often things that had never been spoken about before. It was a moment of revelation for Alison, who realised how important these kinds of conversations are for women. So the idea for  “Finding Our Voice” was born.  

Alison’s blog, written in March 2021: 

Do you have any idea of the effect? 

A friend sent me an article she had written on violence towards women, asking for my views. I opened it and began to read; little did I know what would unfold. Days later here I am wanting to share my own story. 

As a feminist from the 70’s and someone who has lived as an independent woman trying to define herself all these years, this feels like a confession, ‘I shouldn’t have to be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing this; my own inner voice still says, “Of all people I should have known better”.’ But that’s the point, isn’t it?  We still think of violence towards women as the outlier, not the norm. Recent events have again raised that erroneous thought. Many women in their lives will experience violence in some form or another and what are we doing about it? 

My most recent experience was waking up with a jolt one night, my partner had yanked the duvet, he was getting cold. This harmless incident (how many duvet struggles have you ever been in?) triggered me in a big way. That yank had hit a core fear, a core place and something kicked in: my defences. Danger, threat. Now, I was in serious flight mode - ‘Be prepared, this is a scared zone’. I lay there knowing that was far from my partners intention, but that action triggered something deep in me. Over 35 years ago I lived with a man who hit me, the first time it happened I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, a committed feminist. I told no-one at the time, I was too ashamed. I stayed, naively thinking it would never happen again; he loves me, he cares for me. But I was soon disillusioned. After a couple of years I left, knowing I could not live under that threat. 

This is what men don’t understand (or women who have never been through it), I was fortunate in that nothing was physically broken but I had started to adapt. This is the travesty. I started to modify my behaviour, I knew the danger signals, I could see the temperature rising and could avert it (most times) by moderating the situation. That usually meant calming things down, swallowing my own voice, curbing my own rising anger and frustration. I did that out of self-preservation – better than being hit. I knew he could break my arm if he wanted to. I couldn’t stand this in myself, I limited myself to keep safe. I wouldn’t shout or retaliate, I opted out, I adapted, I became a chameleon, changing myself to fit in. 

Women become experts at this, it’s a matter of survival. But that means we lose our voices, we are reacting, coping and avoiding, not being the full human beings we could be. I’m writing this now because I don’t think anything has really changed, women are still adapting. As a human race we are losing out.   Women are expending a lot of energy just keeping themselves safe, avoiding the solitary walk home, bearing the impacts of the numerous frightening incidents that EVERY woman has experienced in her life. A portion of the energy a woman has for creativity, love, passion and intelligence is spent in defence and protection. What would it be like for all that energy to be freed up? As a society do we really think about what is lost to us all?   

Can men see this is what is happening? - that if you hit or threaten a woman she spends her whole life dealing with the residue. Quite a stark thought and very much a reality. 

Alison Manning 2021  


 

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