As a survivor, I feel grateful to organisations like Women’s Aid, Refuge, Broken Rainbow – unfortunately I didn’t use them as much as I could have, because it took me so long to recognise that what I was experiencing was domestic violence, but it makes me feel glad, and safer, to know that they are there.

But the one thing that I found more valuable than anything, and without which I think I would be in a lot worse state right now or possibly even still in my abusive relationship, was the love and support of a good friend.

My friend didn’t judge me. Even if I’d have stayed with my abuser she would have been there for me. She didn’t treat me like I was stupid for getting into and staying in an abusive relationship. She believed me, she listened, she never expected anything in return. She didn’t tell me what to do, but supported me and trusted me in making my own decisions. She treated me like a good person who deserved love, and that made it possible for me to begin to believe that about myself. Every day I went home to a partner who, through the way she treated me, told me that I was stupid, worthless, unloveable. I was only able to begin to question these messages because of my friend’s love and faith in me.

Friends, sisters, parents – so many other survivors I have read about or spoken to have talked of having people who were there for them when they really needed it.  Just like survivors, supporters of survivors are all around us, they don’t look different to other people, and they don’t talk about what they’ve experienced. Anyone can be a supporter. They don’t win awards, no-one writes books or magazine articles about them, but there are so many people out there who change and even save lives everyday without anyone noticing except for the survivor they helped.

When I think of the scale of the problem of domestic violence, how it happens in every country and culture in the world, the sheer number of abusers who are out there, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless. The people like my friend- the supporters- are the people who give me hope.

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