Survivor sets up peer support group to empower others

After Gill from Leeds left her own abusive relationship, she decided that she wanted to do something to help other survivors so she set up a peer support group. The Peer Support Group for Victims of Domestic Abuse has gone from strength-to-strength allowing Gill the opportunity to give back to a community that had healed and supported me.

Tell us about your life now

It amazing, free of fear and restrictions and a whole new world is opening up to me, that I would never have been able to part of if I had stayed married.

Tell us about the books, charities and why you set it up etc

I set up a peer support domestic abuse group, the group grew via word of mouth, through the voluntary work I carried out in different charities.  I gave talks and interviews in public and on the radio and TV.  Our reputation grew and our name became recognised in the city. I built up a strong network of support and knowledge for the women that the group supported.  Some of the women went on to do their own voluntary work, many found full time employment and most managed to break free from the abuse of their partners.   Over lockdown the group changed and adapted – we became an online support group – focusing on what was positive in our lives at the time.   After lockdown I used the experiences and knowledge that I had to gain full time, paid employment, working with victims of domestic abuse.

Can you tell us a bit about why you set this up?

When I left my ex, my whole world and life fell apart and I had to rebuild from scratch.  I received some brilliant support from Women’s Aid and attended a support group for many years.  This is where I saw that there was a gap in the services – A Peer Support Group for Victims of Domestic Abuse.  It was my opportunity to give back to a community that had healed and supported me.   I am passionate about empowering other women and get strength from the knowledge that I am making a positive difference in their lives.

Tell us what you have learnt?

To ask questions.  To take advice, listen to other people’s experiences, to be open to suggestions, to be bold and try new challenges.  To have confidence in my own opinions and strengths.  To surround myself with positive people who will enhance, support and boost my life.

What would you say the most common misconception of domestic abuse is?

That it won’t happen to you and that physical abuse is worse than emotional abuse.  That once you split up with your partner, the abuse stops. That just because you look ok on the outside, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t struggling inside

If you could pass one message to others living with domestic abuse, what would it be?

Abuse does not define who you are as a person, you are worth so much more than what your abusive partner is currently offering you.  Aim high and not settle for second best.

What would your motto be?

Keep going, you will get stronger, and life will get better.