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It is with great pride that I'm writing to tell you about the fundraising event that I have planned for Women's Aid.
Two years ago I left my partner who I had been with for almost 10 years. I packed a bag and walked out the door without much of a conversation about it. I waited until he got home to tell him before leaving but I knew I had to be prepared to leave quickly because I knew how he would react. When he came home he took one look at my bags, pointed his finger at me and told me very clearly that I wasn't going anywhere. I was told, "You don't make those decisions". Despite the shouting and intimidation tactics, the fist through the door inches away from my face, I picked up my bags and walked out the door.
Throughout almost 10 years, I was shouted and sworn at constantly. I was pushed, shoved, poked, slapped and hit, but I would never have labelled any of it as domestic violence or abuse. I had learnt the language of my abuser. He had never seriously hurt me; never put me in hospital. He was always drunk when anything happened and therefore didn't remember. How could he be sorry about something he didn't remember? I should learn to 'man up'.
When I left, he became much worse. I was harassed constantly and became very fearful. After all, he had hurt me when I hadn't done anything wrong and now I had "ruined" his life. I finally had to turn to the police, almost a year after leaving. He had visited my house and pushed his way in. He kicked my bathroom door off its hinges and was shouting and swearing. He had already threatened to kill me and I was genuinely fearful for my life.
The police put me in touch with Women's Aid. I was given emotional support and legal advice. I went to court on my own with a statement I had written on my own, and gained an emergency non-molestation order.
For the first time I was able to speak to people who understood me, and in turn I have been able to better understand myself. I have been single for a year now and have grown from strength to strength. I never ever dreamt that I could be so happy on my own or have so many friends and be so glowing with self confidence. I began running seriously, which leads me finally on to my fundraising...
On 7th April 2014 I will be participating in the marathon des sables. This is an epic 6 day event in the Sahara desert, running approximately 250km and almost entirely self supported. I will be carrying all of my own equipment apart from my tent and water (there will be regular opportunities to collect more water throughout the race). The event itself is known as 'the world's toughest Footrace' and is heavily dominated by men. To me, is seemed like the perfect opportunity to give back to the charity that helped me to turn my life around; going onto a starting line as the tough, strong woman I have become.
Put simply, your money will help other women and children find safety. I am lucky. I am financially secure and independent but many other women are not and without the support of charities such as Women's Aid, they would never be able to leave their toxic relationships. Picking up a phone and asking for help takes enormous courage. Your money will help to ensure that there is someone on the other end of the phone to help that strong, courageous woman who needs help.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. your support and encouragement means a lot to me.