For this years 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we're joining in with the Red Chair Project, to raise awareness of the many women and girls who are killed through Gender Based violence. The 16 Days start on the 25th November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Here's one person's story of how they set up a Red Chair in their local town.
At the beginning of the week I wept when I realised I had nowhere safe to do this 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 says 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.
An update since publishing: "Unbelievable! My pharmacist at the village chemist just asked to put the poster and the photos on her health & wellbeing Facebook/ website page too, to raise awareness!"
And then the next day: "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."