I'm used to hearing horrific stories about physical, sexual and emotional abuse from the brave women that seek help from Solace Women's Aid, a charity for which I've volunteered over the last 7 years. The impacts are heart-wrenching --from broken bones to broken spirits-- especially when children are involved. In fact, it's often children that motivate mothers to finally leave their abusers.
That's why I was so dismayed to read recently in the Independent that reports of child exposure to domestic violence were up by a galling 77% in the UK. Did this mean that abuse was being perpetrated more often in proximity to children? Or maybe concerned citizens were more active in reporting incidences of abuse? The sad truth is, substantial government funding cuts have drastically reduced the resources that organisations like Solace need to prevent domestic violence as well as to help women and children regain their independence to recover after their devastating experiences.
Solace Women's Aid is a London-based charity that supports 11,000 women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence each year. Their services include emergency helplines, counselling, advocacy and advisory services, prevention work for children and young people and refuges. Solace programs help children explore their feelings about their experience of domestic violence and work towards helping the child and mother recover from violence and minimise the negative impact on their health and development.
Since 2011, I have been striving to fill the budget gap for Solace through a music fundraiser called Rock Against Violence. Now in its sixth year, Rock Against Violence has turned into Solace's annual flagship fundraising event. The event is organised and run by a group of volunteers who share the passion in our belief that we truly have the power to change. Including ticket sales, raffles and a silent auction, we raised more than £25,000 in unrestricted funds in 2016. This means more resources to take calls, provide counselling, buy items needed for refuges and a host of other activities that help women and their young ones.
The Wild Things
For 2017, we have five awesome UK-based bands performing: Saint Agnes headlines with additional sets by Dead Coast, The Wild Things, The Sly Persuaders and Plum. The musicians are playing for free and all the proceeds from the evening go to Solace. It's a very important fundraising event for Solace Women's Aid, but it's also a chance to celebrate and showcase our local musical talent while raising awareness of an issue that increasingly impacts women and children from all communities. Check out our Spotify playlist for a sample.
This year, I am even more motivated to spread the word about Rock Against Violence and I encourage you to support Solace Women's Aid. I too will become a mother in a few months, and I believe that every child, including my twins' future friends and classmates, deserve to grow up in a home free from domestic and sexual abuse. If you agree, please join us at Rock Against Violence by getting a ticket or donating via Virgin Money Giving.
Our community / Our music / Our power to change
Judy Kawaguchi is a Board Member of Solace Women's Aid, the founder of Rock Against Violence and the chair of Power of Solace, a volunteer committee that raises funds in aid of Solace Women's Aid via various events and activities throughout the year.