What are you doing for Christmas?

On 7th November 2017 I stood in front of 200 nurses at the Nursing in Practice Conference at the NEC, after lunch to do the keynote speech about domestic violence.

Specifically, I was telling Sarah Gosling’s story. Sarah was brought up in Buckinghamshire before moving in her early 20s to Norfolk with her husband. By the early 2000s they had two children and ran a pub as well as a car repairs business.

In a late-night move in 2010, Sarah left her family and went to live in the North East with her partner Ian Hope – riding through the night on his motorbike to set up home together.

Less than 2 years later, after a campaign of escalating violence and a Saturday of heavy drinking and argument, Hope dialled 999 and said “I need an ambulance, I’ve just stabbed my girlfriend”.

At 2030 on 25th February 2012 Sarah Gosling was pronounced dead.

Sarah Gosling was my sister.

I tell her story to raise awareness of Domestic Abuse.

Some statistics:

– 104 women a year in the UK and 1,600 women in the USA are killed by their current or ex-partners.

– 1 on 4 women or girls experience domestic abuse directly.

– 750,000 children see domestic abuse or are in the next room when it occurs in the UK annually.

– 29% of all violent crime in London annually is domestic abuse.

– Nurses are 3 x more likely to be victims of domestic abuse than average citizens.

It seems that these deaths are largely unreported in the National news, and I reflected on what the nursing profession can do to help women in danger through domestic abuse.

As well as the systems and processes being implemented and applied in hospitals and medical settings, nurses are a frequent ‘first port of call’ for women experiencing domestic abuse, and are a key profession in highlighting and possibly signposting women who are being abused in their own homes.

So, in short, at the conference I tasked nurses with going back to their workplaces and enquiring about support for women experiencing domestic abuse, finding out the key contacts locally and raise awareness of support for women facing domestic abuse with their team and Trust.

Which leaves me with one question – what are YOU going to do to help women to gain support if you suspect or know they are facing domestic abuse or violence? Christmas is often a time of great stress and violence in a house where men use domestic abuse as a method of control.

One of the most prominent organisations involved with supporting women suffering from Domestic Abuse is Refuge – working with Women’s Aid to provide support, advice and shelter for women and children all over the UK.

There is a Refuge Christmas Campaign – sign up here: https://www.refuge.org.uk/get-involved/christmas/

Amongst other things, this supports the helpline and funding for sheltered accommodation.

This is the Refuge Helpline: 0808 2000 247

I’m donating 20% of any fees I receive to Refuge when I deliver Rule of Thumb.

In memory of Sarah Gosling, 1970 – 2012.

What are you doing this Christmas?