In 2006 the perpetrator I existed with, split my lip open whilst I held out 10-month-old daughter in my arms. That for me was my wake up call and I knew I had to be the change I wanted to see. I had been a victim of coercive control and domestic abuse for three years.
Moving to a new area as a single parent was lonely so I registered with the local Sure Start Centre, whereby I enrolled my daughter onto all of the mother and toddler groups and soon after I became a volunteer at the centre. It was during this time that I was asked if I had ever thought of supporting other people who had been in abusive relationships.
In May 2009 I set up SODA, which stands for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, which raises awareness, reduces isolation and supports men and women who have been in an abusive relationship.
I strongly believe that the one thing that we can all do for victims of domestic abuse is raise awareness for others.
Although over the years I have done many radio interviews and a TV appearance on BBC Breakfast News, I had never had any guidance from anyone. A friend contacted me and told me about Sounddelivery Media and their upcoming residential. I applied for the second cohort of the Spokesperson programme to gain new skills, knowledge and motivation.
Sitting in the room amongst a group of strangers was completely out of my comfort zone, what on earth was I actually doing here? Listening to everyone’s story was overwhelmingly inspiring to me and it suddenly felt as though I was in a room full of people who understood me and all that I wanted to try and achieve. I didn’t feel judged throughout the residential, instead guided by a room full of my very own cheerleaders.
I didn’t feel judged throughout the residential, instead guided by a room full of my very own cheerleaders.
The Sounddelivery Media programme has strengthened my professional relationships with journalists too, giving me the opportunity to advance in my career. Challenging myself shows me what I am made of and even if I make mistakes or don’t get it right, it becomes experience and I can learn from it. Leaving my comfort zone has helped me transition to another level and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
Boosting my self-worth, helping building a sense of belonging, helping me to connect with others and giving me a sense of purpose has lead me to my first commissioned piece in the Metro and share my lived experience with Agenda Alliance when they published their report about women who suffer domestic abuse are three times as likely to attempt suicide.
Leaving my comfort zone has helped me transition to another level and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
Being in an extremely controlling relationship, where I was completely controlled, continually told I was worthless, useless, had a negative impact on my life as a survivor. However, attending the Sounddelivery Media programme personally changed my life. Now I see my life with a positive view. Having a positive mental attitude has helped me become more optimistic about life. My positive mindset enables me to be aware of both positive and negative thoughts and being able to reflect on them.
I strongly believe that the one thing that we can all do for victims of domestic abuse is raise awareness for others. SODA can now do this with confidence and determination with thanks to the skills I have taken away with me, with thanks to the Sounddelivery Media team. Professionally the programme has helped me approach life’s challenges with a positive outlook helps me to be a voice for the voiceless until they find their own voice.
About the Author
Samantha Billingham is the founder of SODA. SODA raises awareness, reduces isolation and supports those who have, or who are experiencing domestic abuse. SODA provides an online safe haven for those who are experiencing domestic abuse, to come together without judgement. SODA educates employers to empower their employees to enhance their understanding and knowledge of domestic abuse. Samantha is part of Sounddelivery Media’s 2022 Spokesperson Programme.