24th September, 2021 8:13 am
A Dundee woman has started a new support group for domestic abuse survivors after years of suffering in silence.
She is now attempting to teach herself, and others, how to live independently.
She said: “I spent 15 years with my ex-husband and that didn’t end well.
“For some reason it came to me in a counselling session about women starting over – whether it be from domestic abuse, sexual abuse – it came to me that you’re almost having to start your life all over.
“A lot of these women, because they’ve been controlled, they haven’t got control of their finances or anything that’s done for them.
“From that, I realised actually looking at myself after moving into my new property that I didn’t have a clue about anything.
“From the PTSD side of it, I didn’t know how to keep myself safe, even to this day I still don’t know how to keep myself safe.”
The support group is run and funded by the Boomerang Community Centre in Stobswell.
Before he died earlier this year, Neil Ellis, the centre’s founder, had worked with Valerie to get the idea off the ground.
The pair came up with the name Tabula Rasa for the group, which means ‘new beginnings’.
Valerie said: “Neil and I were on the same wavelength on how we wanted the group to be and how we wanted these women to grow.
“Neil wanted me to do it because he felt that a lot of current support groups are run by women reading from books, but not someone who hast actually physically experienced what these women have gone through.
“For exactly that reason I’m not going to patronise them, I’m not going to tell them what to do.”
The members first met in July and have been coming together each week to learn new skills and support each other.
So far the women have learned first aid, how to budget, DIY, basic household chores, how to look after their car, karate and much more.
In the future, Valerie plans to have ex-police officers and firefighters hosting training with the women, as well as providing relaxation treats such as yoga, pilates and massages.
Valerie said: “A lot of the things I’m giving them is almost like an imaginary tool box.
“I’m giving these women things that either I’ve used or I think could be beneficial.
“I want these women to make friends with other victims so that we all understand each other, we can all empower each other.”
Dundee worst in Scotland for domestic abuse
Earlier this year, Dundee was named the worst city in Scotland for domestic abuse.
A report by the Scottish Government showed that domestic abuse reports in Scotland had risen for the fourth year in a row, with Dundee having the most cases per head of population.