Domestic abuse survivor speaks out after support service changed her life
- Credit: Archant
A domestic abuse survivor from Stevenage has spoken out to raise awareness of the issue, and highlight the service which “changed her life”, during the nationwide 16 Days of Action campaign.
Roxie Chambers has been a service user, volunteer and now employee of the Survivors Against Domestic Abuse service run by Stevenage Borough Council.
The mother of two spoke to the Comet about her experience and her work to help those who going through similar circumstances.
She said: “Enough was enough and I had to get out of there. For a very long time I wouldn’t leave my house. “After I left the relationship I have continuously been trying to keep myself and my children safe. “I’m really happy that the laws are starting to change, and my children have had no idea what was going on.”
After leaving the relationship, Roxie was referred to the SADA service – which since has gone on to be operational in three other local authority areas, and has opened an number of Safe Space homes for families fleeing abuse.
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“SADA was literally the best thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life,” she continued. “The service helped me to understand my irrational fears and take my children places without being fearful. My case worker understood what people around me couldn’t understand.
“I was then offered the chance to volunteer and I managed to fit that around my part time job at the time. The service just continued to grow and grow and eventually a position came up. I went for it because the service is so important to me. I’m so lucky that I have been given the position and been able to grow along with the service.
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“I used to be really embarrassed and I wouldn’t talk about it until I realised all it takes is one person to have an understanding for me to change my life for the better. I know what a difference just one person can make to service users and their families.”
Speaking of her role in helping to other service users, Roxie said she is “lucky to have the best team”.
“We don’t just deal with domestic abuse, there are so many other issues like child abuse, drugs and alcohol, offending and modern slavery,” she said.
“It can be really draining emotionally, but what I have to remember is you might have been the only person they have spoken to today.”
Roxie has chosen to speak out during the 16 Days of Action campaign, which aims to help businesses do more to help their employees involved in an abusive relationship. The campaign, which is supported by Public Health England, runs from November 25 to December 10.
For SADA, it is an opportunity to raise as much awareness of domestic abuse and the services available as possible. In light of the coronavirus situation, information packs are going to be sent out to businesses like estate agents and hotels.
Roxie has also been a part of a new book, SADA Survivor Stories, which will be pushed during the 16 Days of Action campaign.
Roxie continued: “We try to get anybody we possibly can involved to help alleviate some of that embarrassment and the stigma that some survivors feel.
“That’s something that definitely needs to change. Lots of brave survivors have come together to tell their stories in the book we have just released, and it’s available to download on Kindle for free until December 5.”
SADA chair and Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “We’re proud to once again be supporting 16 Days of Action to highlight the need for services such as SADA to ensure victims of domestic abuse and their families get the support that they need.
“This year in particular has shown us domestic abuse services are as important as ever, with SADA having seen a 90 per cent increase in referrals during the pandemic and expanded their Safe Space provision from two to 19.
“If anyone is suffering, please know that you are not alone and that help is available. Call SADA today on 01438 242666 or email SADA@stevenage.gov.uk.”
North Herts District Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and East Herts District Council are also signed up to the SADA service.
Cllr Sean Prendergast, NHDC’s deputy executive member for housing said: “Campaigns such as 16 Days of Action highlight how important it is that we are all aware of the signs of domestic abuse, and that those who are suffering know there is help out there for them – including help that they can access through their workplace. Working directly with SADA has helped us help many women, men and children in North Hertfordshire to escape domestic abuse and we will tirelessly continue with this work in the future.”
For more details on the campaign, go to 16daysofaction.co.uk.