Christmas campaign: Herts domestic violence survivor challenges the preconceptions surrounding abuse

Lara Norris is the new CEO of Home-Start Hertfordshire and is steering the charity through a difficu

Lara Norris is the new CEO of Home-Start Hertfordshire and is steering the charity through a difficult financial period. - Credit: Archant

We conclude our domestic abuse awareness campaign with some closing thoughts from a survivor who has gone on to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life which should inspire us all.

Lara Norris, the chief executive of family support charity Home-Start Herts, endured four years of sustained abuse from her partner before breaking free.

She hopes that by sharing her life experiences she can challenge the stigma surrounding abuse and transform perceptions and behaviours in the workplace.

“We are not the abused.

“So what do I mean by that? Because the treatment I suffered both mental and physically over four years was nothing less than abuse. During that period I was imprisoned, hurt, spat on, humiliated, and experienced degradation that words cannot describe. But we are not the abused.

“I am not the abused.

“Because I am more than those four years. I am a mother, a wife, a graduate, a business owner and a CEO of an award-winning charity. I am a writer, a public speaker, a lifelong volunteer. I have spoken with royalty, prime ministers and international leaders without fear. Because I am not the abused.

Most Read

“They are not the abused.

“People are more than the sum of their domestic abuse. They have a whole life to lead. They have children to raise in safety, people to love and care for. They work alongside you, for you or employ you. They are in schools and offices, pubs and theatres, watching TV or making the news. They are not the abused.

“We are not the abused.

“This week take the time to ensure that everyone in your organisation, your club and your life has access to help so that they can live the life they deserve. Ensure every child lives in safety and can reach their full potential. Make a commitment to ensure that you stand on the side of the abused so they can hold their head high and say: ‘I am not the abused, I have the right to the best life free from violence and fear. I am not the abused, I am me and everything I can be stands before me – thanks to you.”

For details of how you can help an employee, colleague or friend you suspect maybe enduring domestic abuse visit or contact the helpline on 08 088 088 088. This free confidential service is available for anyone impacted by abuse directly or indirectly and will provide expert advice and signposting to the most appropriate local agency support.