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News & Media, Young People

To end gender-based violence: ‘Educate and re-educate young people.’

Posted on: 26 November, 2020

Written by Clare Maryan, alongside the contribution by Katharine Lawman.

All of our team members that we have covered in this series are amazing in their own way. Each have taken very different paths and each have very different backgrounds as to what has brought them to work within domestic abuse services at Cranstoun. But the common thread that ties them is an overwhelming drive to right the wrong and to end gender-based violence. And none more so than Katharine Lawman, our final spotlight.

Katharine (Kate) Lawman, Cranstoun’s Transform Service Manager at our integrated domestic abuse service in Sutton, joined Cranstoun in August this year. With a background in marketing, working in a couple of different sectors to being a successful entrepreneur, you’d be wondering how this fits in to what she is doing now. Two words… equality and empowerment. Though why those words takes our conversation in a different direction.

Kate was sexually harassed in the workplace whilst on a student work placement. Whilst it stopped her work placement at that point, it was a defining moment where she became passionate about supporting women who were being abused in any way. This led to a final year dissertation, “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” and set her on a path advocating women’s rights in the workplace and an end to discrimination. This discrimination was evident in the finance sector where she worked for over a decade, until ultimately her choice to become a mother closed the door on a career pathway with the company she was working for at the time. What happens next is transformational but in two very different ways.

Transformational in the sense that Kate took her talents and her expertise as a mum across the Sutton community. She created local community events to showcase the talents of other mums by selling their wares whilst at the same time opening up ‘Shop & Play’ events to mums and children that enabled safe, social spaces for women to connect. These events grew to a level whereby they raised funds for local charities, including Sutton Women’s Centre.

And, transformational in the sense that it was an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and the Sutton Women’s Centre that enabled Kate to understand her own relationship, empowering her and helping the shift from victim to survivor. Her community work became even more important as it was then about giving back to help other women.

Whilst I was inspired by Kate as she shared her passion for equality, empowerment and end to abuse, she herself is inspired by all those in the Transform partnership delivering life-saving and life-changing services across Sutton – a partnership led by Cranstoun. From the staff and volunteers at Jigsaw4U who work as befrienders, the staff at Sutton Women’s Centre with the Freedom ProgrammeHestiaHome-Start Sutton, and The Limes College, to the IDVAs at Cranstoun – they are the unsung heroes in Kate’s opinion. So what does the 16 days of activism mean for Kate?

“It means that we are doing great work. Our partners and my team of expert IDVAs are helping so many women across the borough; but it is clear we still have a long way to go before women and young people are not the subject of domestic abuse at the hands of their perpetrators. We need to get to the heart of domestic abuse, we need to educate and re-educate young people against these horrific choices. We need to penetrate schools and ensure that PHSE subjects cover far more deeply what domestic abuse is and how to ensure ‘you’ make the right choices throughout ‘your’ life. We need to educate young people now so that they understand more about coercive control. Domestic abuse isn’t just simply violence, which remains the misconception in today’s society. Schools should open up the conversation with young people at an early age to counter perhaps some of the learned behaviours young people witness in every-day life. We need to recreate a normal that is right and proper to move forward in and hold people accountable for their choices throughout their lives. Domestic abuse is a choice that the perpetrator makes. It can be unlearned, but the age of learning is crucial.”

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