There are times in your life when by chance you meet someone who inspires you with their journey and their story. This person for me was Peta Pendlebury and Book at Bedtime is her story. Book at Bedtime is a children’s charity that provides bookcases full of donated children’s books into Women’s Refuges throughout the UK. They also provide a set of books that the support-workers use in the refuge to help the children open up about their experiences of living with domestic abuse and the emotional impact. Listening to Peta’s story has ignited my sense of giving back and resonated with my previous work life of helping women and families in the same situation.
Many of us take it for granted having a safe environment growing up, so imagine that you left home this morning and now you can’t go back. Your life now consists of what is currently in your handbag. How does that feel? This is the reality for women who become brave enough to escape a life of domestic abuse. The possibility of being caught trying to leave means that they rarely take much with them than what would be expected on a normal day. And for women with children they will not be able to take their favourite toys and books. Is there something that you feel that you couldn’t do without but it is not something that you carry in your handbag? How would this make you feel if you couldn’t have this in your life?
So as this month is dedicated to women’s health here at Beehive Healthcare and we are celebrating all the positives to being a woman, we also need to remember that sometimes, it is not all rosy, that some women live daily with domestic abuse and this has a huge impact on them and their children.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse is any incidence of controlling behavior (mental or physical), violence or abuse. The abused person describes feeling worthless and ashamed, blaming themselves for the abuse they are suffering. They may fear being judged or be anxious about losing their children and home. They may be worried their abuser will find out they have spoken out. On average there will be have been 35 assaults before the victim contacts the police. There is plenty of help out there, so check the link at the end of the blog. But it is not just the adults that suffer. The children also feel frightened and just want the abuse to stop. They may not understand why it is happening: often blaming themselves or feeling that they should be able to stop it. When parents are aggressive or manipulative children find it difficult to develop emotionally. This can lead to anxiety, lower self-esteem, and increased depression and anger. This then can manifest in the form of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems and feeling sick which often leads to absence from school.
Having reflected on this I realized that my memories of the books of my childhood were not just about the stories. I remember my father used to take us up to Caerphilly Mountain every Saturday whilst mum went shopping. We had a bar of chocolate between the 5 of us as he read the magical stories of Mr Pink Whistle’s adventures. My abiding memories are of looking forward to this treat every week and this is part of why I still love reading. And like Book at Bedtime I believe that disappearing into the magical world of a book is the best form of escapism. You can go wherever you want, be whatever you want and most of all when all the danger is over you are safe.
Founder of Book at Bedtime, Peta Pendlebury says “it’s really important to us that businesses like Beehive get involved in book collection and fundraising because it raises the awareness not only of Book at Bedtime, and the work we do, but also that of the refuges. They also need help with fundraising and other donations, so they can help the women and their children who often turn up with very little in the way of clothes, toiletries, etc. If anyone reading this wants to get involved we’d be so pleased to hear from you.”
So what can we do to help?
Here at Beehive Healthcare we are going to collect children’s books throughout March to fill a bookcase for Book at Bedtime. These books need to be in great condition and if you are unsure then visit www.bookatbedtime.org So come along and bring your children’s books (please ask your children first – we don’t want tears when they realize that their favourite is gone!) and help children who are less fortunate disappear inside the world of a book.
For more information, or to speak to a member of the Beehive Healthcare team click here to get in touch.