Helping one voice become many

Donna is using her experience of domestic abuse to empower and unite other survivors with a website dedicated to helping ‘one voice to become many’. She has also set up a survivor’s chat facility to provide a lifeline for those living with abuse which is open five days a week.

Donna who has six children and lives in Weymouth has written two books, is a motivational speaker and also set up an online shop selling personalised affirmation keyrings and panic alarms.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s communications team spoke to Donna to find out more.

Tell us about your life now?

Since speaking up about the abuse I have endured since childhood and self-publishing two non-fiction books, my life has been blessed with amazing collaborations and opportunities which have taken me to Malta as an international guest speaker and to a Global Sisterhood Mastermind & Gala in America.

In 2021, due to the pandemic and the tragic increase in domestic abuse incidents across the UK, I decided to set up an online chat facility via my website in order to provide a lifeline of hope and support for victims and survivors. It’s open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm.

I also set up an Etsy shop selling personalised affirmation keyrings and panic alarms. The mission was not only to provide a source of income for me and my children, but also to provide a discreet platform for victims/survivors to communicate without drawing any unwanted attention from a perpetrator.

This year I am working on a new project (more details to follow) which I believe has the potential to save the lives of many domestic abuse victims. Working towards to ending violence against women and girls will always be at the forefront of my advocacy work, and I shall continue to develop creative ways to achieve this monumental goal.

Tell us about more about the work you are doing?

In 2018, I singled handedly designed and created my own website, OneVoiceMyChoice, a platform where I wanted to share my experiences of abuse and mental health in order to help empower and support victims across the UK and around the world.

I felt that by being transparent about my life experiences and teaching people how they too can overcome adversity may resonate with other survivors. I hoped and believed this would help victims and survivors connect on an emotional level and that may enable them to feel inspired and strong enough to either reach out directly to me, or to a friend/family member.

I have learned that by engaging with other people and being yourself can really help others to find the courage to speak up.

I self-published my first book on Amazon in March 2018, The Reinvention of Me – a journey of self-discovery in a disenchanted world. This is a book of memoirs which covers the highs-and-lows of life, alongside educational chapters.

I self-published my second book on Amazon in May 2020, Giving Women A Voice – a collaboration of real-life stories from survivors of abuse in the UK, USA and Malta – a global anthology. This took 18 months to compile with 10 co-authors including six from the USA, two from the UK and two from Malta. This book has kindly been endorsed by a female Member of the European Parliament and Government Minister in Malta, Dr Miriam Dalli MP.

What’s the biggest thing that you have learned?

The biggest thing I have learned is that we all have the ability to overcome adversity if we retain self-belief, self-love and continue to surround ourselves with positive people.

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

For me personally, I believe that the most common misconception of domestic abuse is how people are so quick to judge the victim. There’s often that thought: ‘Why doesn’t she just leave’?

This shows a complete lack of understanding of the dynamics of domestic abuse – often victims are in a state of trauma and confusion and living in perpetual flight or fright. That question also puts the onus on the victim without a second thought about the behavior of the perpetrator.

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

If I could pass one message to others living with domestic abuse it would be this.  You are not to blame for the toxic behaviors from another human being. You deserved to be loved, respected, treated with kindness and compassion. If you are in an abusive environment, please find the courage to seek help – I can appreciate how terrifying this can be, but once you speak up, you’ll be transitioning onto your new life path.  Be brave, you’ve got this!

What would your motto be?

My motto would be to never allow the negativity of others to define who you are, or who you choose to become.

What makes you laugh/happy?

My children are my life. They are the reason I have a smile on my face every day. – ‘helping one voice become many’

If you need help or advice on domestic abuse, you can get in touch with the Free 24/7 National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247 – or contact any of the specialist domestic abuse organisations and helplines listed on our Resources page.