Last month, as we celebrated International Women’s Day, the spirit of empowerment reverberated within Wallington High School for Girls. I had the privilege alongside 19 other Year 12 students to embark on a compelling journey of understanding due to the eye-opening initiative of the ‘Domestic Abuse Training Ambassador’ programme that was held in the school and led by the Sutton Women’s Centre. 

The statistics that were shared during the training were sobering- every thirty seconds, a call is made to the police regarding domestic abuse, and 9 out of 10 neurodivergent women endure it too. These figures underscore the urgent need for action and growing awareness. These sessions were a profound educational experience that equipped us with insights into how to address domestic abuse effectively. 

Through impactful video sessions, we analysed the Power and Control wheel and gained a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms in which abuse manifests in. Another significant takeaway was understanding the importance of community for survivors as well as collective action. We also delved into the detrimental influence of mass media, discovering how news and social media frequently perpetuate harmful stereotypes about women. The Sutton Women’s Centre did not shy away from the harsh realities of abuse, and we explored its multifaceted impacts from psychological, physical and behavioural dimensions. 

Although what I’ve highlighted may seem like the sessions were simply about understanding, they were instead mostly about empowerment. We discovered how to distinguish between sympathy and empathy to validate the experiences of all survivors. All students are committed to fostering an open dialogue around domestic abuse and enacting effective change. Fareeha Islam stated that the training “equipped me with valuable insights and has provided me with the necessary tools to make a difference in our community”. The class has since then had follow-up meetings and intends to continue to do so to ensure sustained learning, not just between us but also between the school community.

International Women’s Day may be fading into memory, but the urgency to recognise the demands for change and addressing domestic abuse remains undiminished. Let us continuously celebrate the strength and resilience of women worldwide and create an environment where everyone can live free from abuse.