Each year, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Restored supporters get involved with the Red Chair Project. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the many women and girls who are killed through Gender Based violence, by designating a chair in a public space (churches are often used!), alongside a poster with information about violence against women.
Keep reading to see how Anne*, a survivor of domestic abuse, persevered to set up a Red Chair in her community.
At the beginning of the week, I wept when I realised I had nowhere safe to do [the Red Chair Project] campaign. I was utterly heartbroken that I have no church who cares and I was too frightened to approach the posh eateries where I live and face rejection.
On Wednesday I took my dog for her walk and we always visit a particular bench - on a sunny day it’s my Psalm 121 bench, as you can see the mountains. I often pray or cry here. Anyway, I am sitting here telling God how I feel and it occurs to me that I am sitting in a memorial garden in my village - what better place to remember these women! So, I get home, pray for courage and look up the phone number of the person responsible for the garden. I call her. I live in Wales, so the poster has to be bilingual, in Welsh as well as English, and I'm fully expecting a NO. But, she listens, grants permission, and even agrees to help me translate into welsh, which I’m astounded by!
"Anyway, I am sitting here telling God how I feel and it occurs to me that I am sitting in a memorial garden in my village - what better place to remember these women!"
As we end the call, the woman I'm speaking to asks me "why are you doing this?". I say, "Well, because I care, I volunteer for a charity who are trying to change the story for women & girls..." I swallow and say "and I’m also a survivor". She quickly responds telling me that she was in an abusive marriage for over 30 years, and only left a few years ago. She didn't leave or frame her experience of abuse because it wasn't totally violent. She now spends as much time as she can with family and friends because she wasn't 'allowed to' before. What an incredible divine appointment that she was the person I spoke to!
This morning, I have been and put my posters up, tied with red ribbon, and I sat and prayed for the women that the bench now represents. I chose the most beautiful view for them all: a peaceful place and a place where I know God sits with me.
No, I don’t have a church who cares, but I have a heavenly father who does, and now I have a fellow survivor who does.
Since publishing this blog, Anne sent us these updates:
"Unbelievable! My pharmacist at the village chemist just asked to put the poster and some photos on her health & wellbeing Facebook/ website page too, to raise awareness!"
"I had the most gorgeous email from the local council this morning. They have offered space on the wall in the garden for me to place a permanent plaque to remember those who have lost their lives to gender-based violence." Anne is now working hard to get this plaque installed in the memorial garden, as a permanent tribute to the many women and girls who should still be with us.
Download Resources for your own Red Chair
Access the Red Chair Pack containing posters, example prayers and preaching notes, in a range of languagesDownload the Pack
*Name changed to protect anonymity