Free course in Cardiff helps tackle violence against women

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Welsh Women’s Aid has created a free seven-week course for anyone in Cardiff who wants to learn how to protect women in their community from violence.

The Ask Me Project is accessible to anyone over the age of 18 and aims to teach communities how to be more helpful to survivors as well as find ways to challenge unnecessary myths, attitudes and stigmas surrounding abuse. .

Sabiha Azad, who coordinated the project, says it’s packed with interactive exercises to help “unpack what is meant by violence against women” and “normalized abuse in our community”.

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Sabiha said: “There are a lot of attitudes around abuse that we need to change. For example, we need to start challenging the jokes about rape, financial abuse, gender stereotypes around abuse and trans women who are at the forefront of abuse and how it affects Support.

“When survivors disclose what they are going through, it will most likely not be to a service or organization supporting survivors. It will most likely be to a neighbor, friend or family member. .

“This extends to the wider community and can include local shopkeepers and hairdressers they trust. This course aims to get community members to act as a kind of connectors.

“What you find is that a lot of us stop that conversation about abuse or victim blaming. It comes from how we’ve been conditioned: a survivor will tell you they’ve argued with his partner and you can respond by saying everyone is arguing or asking if they did something to annoy them.

“When you look at society in general, we tend to blame the victims a lot. This project aims to challenge the conflict that exists in the first place, which normalizes abuse and becomes more preventative in our communities.”



Sabiha says that despite growing up in Wales and always being an advocate for women, she never heard of these services around her, which inspired her to coordinate the project.

The course has been temporarily moved online due to Covid-19, but face-to-face piloting resumes on February 12.

It includes seven sessions of one hour and fifteen minutes each and extending over a period of seven weeks.

Sabiha said: “The first session will teach you the language we use when talking about a victim or a survivor. Domestic violence and sexual violence can have a lot of jargon-heavy terms – for example violence based on the image that is more commonly referred to as revenge porn.We are unpacking these terms in order to raise awareness.

“Then we talk a bit more about power dynamics and what can lead to abuse. Then we talk about the realities some people face when trying to get help.

“Then we talk about what constitutes our community and how we can raise awareness. For example, is there a book club in your area where you can raise awareness and let people know that they can come see you if they are being abused? are you happy to do this in person or online – what are the limits for you?

“The project is there to help people understand abuse better. Often in the sessions, people talk about things that have happened to them and how they felt.

“Sometimes people think activism has to be a huge act, but just talking about it to others in your community helps. Even talking about gender norms and power dynamics to your friends is an act of activism in itself.”

Sabiha aims to attract and encourage people from more marginalized communities to register. She said: “Some communities have always been disconnected from services. I’m from the Bangladeshi community and I’ve always been interested and involved in the women’s movement, but I’ve lived in Wales all my life and I don’t didn’t really know these classes were taking place.

“There are many additional barriers that marginalized communities may face, especially the LGBQT+ community.

“Gay men will be abused by their partner, but unfortunately sometimes society doesn’t take it seriously because we see it as they are both equal physically and are both men. Society doesn’t understand that Abuse is all about power dynamics and it’s not just anyone who looks physically stronger.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about physical abuse and when we don’t fit into the community we are like strangers to the victims. When we fit into the community and have that all-encompassing support, we understand the needs of the communities.”

Beth Fry, 23, says the course has helped her in her current job at a mother and baby home, where she sees “many different kinds of abuse on a daily basis”.



Beth says the course helps her spot signs of abuse in her job and in the Cardiff community

Beth said: “I wanted to be more aware of what was going on and how to deal with it. Through the course I learned about different types of abuse such as domestic, financial and psychological abuse. I learned approach the conversation if you’re talking about it in the community and how to handle it sensitively if someone approaches you and tells you about their abuse.

“I learned to give advice on how to effectively direct them to the right places and what to say. I learned not to use hurtful terms and to always believe what the survivor is saying – don’t question it. The course gives you all the right tools to be an ally for survivors.

“It’s helped me recognize the signs of abuse. It gives you the confidence and tools to become an advocate and start that conversation in the community. It’s completely free, and with everything going on in our society, it’s so important that people know about it, use it and play their part in helping.”

Helen Pickett, 48, became interested in the project in November after realizing that with the nature of her work and hobbies, she was engaging with all different types of people in the Cardiff community on a daily basis.

Helen said: “I run brownies and do a lot of outside activities. I meet a lot of people and can spread the word. I’m quite confident and happy to talk about abuse. I’ve realized that our attitudes about this are an issue and need to be discussed more for change to happen.

“I have heard of some of the unnecessary myths that exist. One of them is that domestic violence is a cultural thing when it happens in all cultures. Although women are by far the majority who suffer domestic violence, men have it too Ask Me has allowed me to listen and support survivors and point them in the right direction if they need help.

“I would definitely recommend others to join in and help those in need. It’s important for us to stop stigmatizing the area of ​​domestic violence which I think is often swept under the rug. The first step is that a lot of people are talking about it.”



Helen Pickett decided to participate in the Ask Me project after realizing how many people she interacted with and could help on a daily basis.

Helen used the knowledge gained from the course to teach postmenopausal women about domestic violence on Zoom, as well as to tell people about it at work and on social media.

Helen said: “I’ve busted some myths about how common abuse is against women. I think raising awareness and talking about it is one way to get things done. Even if you’re only helping one person, the course was not lost.”

Franca Addyman, 27, says she joined the project because she wanted to better understand abuse and how to support survivors.

Franca said: “I particularly wanted to join because I wanted to be part of the process of raising awareness not just about domestic violence, but all other forms of abuse.

“I wanted to change people’s views and perceptions of gender inequality and challenge harmful stereotypes. I am now part of a community that is focused on supporting people in a way that is very empowerment-focused and trauma-informed I don’t force people to leave an abusive partner or situation, but I know how to give control and autonomy back to the survivor.

“I shared information on social media with my friends and family about the different support services. I also had a lot more conversations with my family and friends about the harmful stigma and understanding of domestic violence against men, women and LGBQT people.

“I recently did an interview with ITV News Wales to raise awareness of coercive control (emotional abuse) and its subtle signs which may not be obvious to someone.



Franca’s newfound knowledge of different forms of abuse led her to speak openly on television about coercive control

“I would definitely recommend anyone to participate. It not only helps deepen your knowledge of abuse, but it helps you think about the barriers in place for survivors and how to remove them. is put on the effects of someone being from different cultures and social backgrounds.We consider people whose visas are not secure, people whose first language may not be English, and support all members of our community, regardless of their social, cultural and economic background.

“I am now an active bystander supporting victims of domestic violence in my community. I felt it was a very encouraging course and I was able to extend it more widely to different communities.”

You must be over 18 to participate. For more information, click here.

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