"I watched my friend die..."
I think it was around the end of 2013, when I was doing a part-time evening course with one of my friends of over 15 years when I was let in that something was wrong.
She was always the enthusiastic person who wanted to go out and do things like meals and parties, and at the time she had a really good income for her age(22) and had just purchased a new limited edition car which she was always racing us around in(almost killing us most times).
Maybe a couple months later I started to realise a pattern, that after our classes she never wanted to go home and would always want to in some way prolong the night be it going for late meals or driving everyone home or staying at friends houses.
She lived with her grandparents and older brother, and occasionally saw her mother and father separately but I didn't understand the situation but I never really asked because since I'd known her from the aged of 10 that's how it had always been, and I related because my grandparents were like parents to me too.
Then one day she told me just what had been happening that her older brother had been abusing her and hitting her for no reason every now and again throughout her life, but lately it had been happening more frequently, she stressed that she'd always be on edge and never knew when he was going to come in angry and assault her.
She didn't feel safe in the one place she should and the only time she did was when she was out of the house. This started to affect her sleeping pattern and to my shock she was already very thin (size 8) but she was losing a lot of weight becoming really frail maybe reduced to a size 4-6, this I think through anxiety and depression as she wasn't eating.
I felt so sad to see my friend so down everyday it was like I was losing her bit by bit and after failed attempts of convincing her to get help, I felt like there was nothing that I could do about it other than be there for her when I could. I concentrated on cheering her up but even then I could see her losing so much hope and I didn’t know what to do, because at the time I had 2/3 jobs and was not always around.
Then one day she phoned me and she was really quiet on the phone whispering, and all I remember was that she sounded really scared and she said she needed help, so I got in my car and went to get her. She explained how she was sitting on the sofa and he had pulled the whole sofa backgrounds so she fell and started beating her. That’s when I knew I couldn’t let her go back to the house and I would do anything for her not to be there.
So we went to the police and she told them everything and they said he would be arrested. I’ll never forget when her uncle came and tried to convince her she was doing the wrong thing, I thought how would he feel if he was being abused.
The police said that she should take an over night bag and stay with somebody so I said she could stay with me. But the only problem was that she would have to go back to the house to get clothes. I went with her to get them and it was like something out of mission impossible because we had to do it not knowing if her brother would come back.
I remember being in her bathroom thinking this is like something out of a soap, this stuff really does happen. We were in her room packing all of her essentials when we heard the door bang downstairs she was so scared she thought it was him and it was. Somehow we managed to grab the stuff and walked out the house.
From that day on the police were able to help and get in touch with a social worker who arranged housing for my friend in an unknown area, where she was out of harm’s way and gave her a support.
However I think to myself what about those people who don’t have a friend or person they think can help, what about the people who feel they are voiceless and perhaps a lot younger and are too scared to contact the police and don’t know where to go or who to tell?
By doing interactive educational workshops in schools and for people in educational and community settings, I think many people can feel like they not only have a voice but can feel that they are important and have self-worth again. I watched my friend die.. not in the literal sense but as a person by having her true self erased and reduced to someone who was ready to give up and nobody should be made to feel like that.
With support from BAWSO group and other passionate individuals I’d really like to make these workshops a reality and help anyone who feels voiceless finally speak out, in terms of Violence against women.
After attending Bawso's 'Women's Inspirational Day' in Cardiff last week which consisted of women from a community particularly from BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnicity)giving an account of their personal stories whereby they had been mistreated, I feel this was a great way of educating people on these issues and I'd like to further impact a movement by doing my own creative workshops.
If you'd like to get in contact with me about working on this project please contact me by email:
Team Panel: Natasha Simone
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