Aesiria is a new organisation in Morecambe, which aims to help women experiencing domestic abuse.
In 2014, a Lancaster University study found that reports to police of domestic abuse rose by 26% during football competitions if England won or drew, and a staggering 38% if England lost. Things have not improved.
It is grim reading. But domestic abuse isn’t just about football. The Coronavirus pandemic, and the accompanying restrictions and lockdown, have caused “an epidemic beneath the pandemic” of domestic abuse, according to one campaigner. Refuge, which runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, reported that between April 2020 and February 2021 they received an average of 13,162 calls and messages PER MONTH, compared to an already huge 8,176 before the lockdown began, a 60% increase.
The word Aesiria has its roots in the east, meaning ‘strong, powerful warrior’, and the group has been set up by some strong, powerful women who themselves have experienced domestic abuse and violence. It is a peer support group, offering women from all backgrounds and cultures a safe space to talk about their experiences and, crucially, get help if and when they want it.
“There’s no pressure,” explains Jana Greasley, one of the founders. “We know how scared you are, how hard this is. We’re ready when you’re ready.”
Aesiria took this approach because of their own experiences. Aesiria is a ‘first step’ organisation, a place to drop in for a brew and a chat and be supported by other women who have lived through domestic abuse. Taking the next steps, such as leaving an abusive relationship or reporting it to the police, is not straightforward. Signposting and support to other agencies, such as Victim Services, are available, but only if requested. If you need support, the power rests with you.
The group meets every Thursday morning in central Morecambe, between 10am and 12 noon. Children are welcome, refreshments are provided, and currently the group has a Polish speaker available, with an ambition to expand support to other languages in future. To find out more, about how to attend, or just to talk, you can call 07341 363433 or email [email protected]. Everything is in the strictest confidence.
Co-founder Lynda Beveridge knows that even thinking about first steps isn’t easy. “Well done for making them,” she said. “You are not alone.”