The first Solace survivor I interviewed was over 12 years ago, when I was a student journalist living in Islington. I had no idea walking into the counselling room how impactful her words would be. She was kind, patient and caring and her interview has been etched in my memory ever since, she said; ‘I knew I had to leave when he pulled a knife on me…’ and then her strong face turned to tears.
They weren’t just sad tears though, as she’d managed to reach a point of safety through the lifesaving work the Solace teams do on a daily basis.
Since then I’ve worked across the UK and around the world interviewing everyone from top politicians and celebrities to royalty, but it’s the real stories about real people that always stay with you.
Many years later, I was living back in London and the pandemic struck. I read a shocking article about domestic violence cases skyrocketing, with Solace dealing with a 110% rise in the number of calls from desperate women trapped at home with their abusers.
Like many I felt powerless, so I offered up my filmmaking skills pro bono hoping to help.
Emily, a survivor, told me; ‘If it hadn’t been for Solace, I wouldn’t be here because it would have ecalated to murder. He controlled who I saw, what I wore, even what I ate.’ The sheer control was unimaginable and it was what women across London were experiencing and heartbreakingly continue to experience.
We did two initial sets of emergency campaign films that became part of the most successful fundraising campaign the charity has ever seen, thanks to the heart and generosity of Solace’s amazing supporters.
This was followed by a historic Christmas campaign and a film that is incredibly close to my heart, the Solace Charity Film, that now sits on their main website and showcases the incredible work this charity does.
It gave a voice to many inspirational women who have fled and survived the most shocking and horrendous abuse I’ve ever heard someone experience and demonstrates how Solace helps women rebuild their lives.
I support and am incredibly proud to work with Solace, as having interviewed countless women they’ve helped who have endured unimaginable abuse, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that their work truly is lifesaving.
Making films for Solace and helping tell survivors stories is a true privilege, but the real superheros are the Solace staff, who help women reclaim their lives, day after day.