By Jodie Nesling
A Margate playwright is working with survivors of domestic abuse as part of a new theatre project.
Katie McGarry has recently collaborated with isle charity Oasis Domestic Abuse Service creating workshops with women in refuge.
Broken Record features parts of survivors stories set to a soundscape which will work as the preamble to her new play focusing on personal experiences of domestic abuse
She said: “I have wanted to do the piece for a long time and it has been 10 years in the making- I have found a way to tell my story after keeping it a secret for such a long time. It’s been part of my journey – we (as a society) don’t talk about it and that’s damaging and when you do people look at you differently. There’s so much shame and the whole ‘why doesn’t she just leave’ mantra riles me.”
The 36-year-old moved to Thanet in 2018 after spending many years in the area on theatre work. She said: “I just fell in love with it – the beaches, the community – I thought I have found my tribe!”
Last year, together with director Annie Sutton, she was approached to create workshops with women in refuge as part of the POW! Festival.
The impact of talking to others with shared experience was profound.
She said: “We all got each other. It was the first time I had spoken to survivors and it changed the course of my play. I really underestimated the effect it had on me.”
Katie, who has previously worked at isle theatre troupe, Looping the Loop and performed as a singer and actress, added: “It was really interesting creating the piece with Oasis women- we don’t often tell our stories in linear fashion- you get snippets of people’s lives and they were so open and generous. Everyone has ‘mess’ and I really wanted to embrace it.”
Broken Record explores the idea of the skipping brain when you have experienced trauma, the ongoing impact abuse can have on mental health, the power of vulnerability, and how finding your voice can help to change the record and hear new music.
Together with the healing process of creating art and delivering hopefully ongoing workshops to isle survivors Katie’s love of sea swimming and connecting with the beach has helped. “It’s like my meditation. There’s something about being near the ocean or putting your feet in the sand that grounds you,” she said.
Oasis has also committed to sharing survivors’ stories with a new podcast. ‘Perspectives: Uncovering Domestic Abuse’ sees the organisation speak to survivors, trauma experts, and members of the community to reveal the broad range of increasingly diverse issues that are encompassed by this ‘one-size-fits-all’ term from all perspectives.
Find help, advice and read the experiences of men and women who have lived through abuse at http://www.oasisdaservice.org/
Domestic Abuse Act
Kent County Council (KCC) has welcomed the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act which gives victims and survivors of domestic abuse and their children greater protections under law.
The new Act means that councils across England will have the legal duty to support victims fleeing their homes into safe accommodation and provide essential support services such as counselling or therapy services to both adults and their children.
Since 2017 Kent County Council has worked to commission the Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse Contract (KIDAS) which provides help for survivors across both community and accommodation-based support and continues to work with partners to build, develop and maximise the support available to those experiencing abuse.
This work is taking place across the partnership which includes District Councils, Medway Council, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police, The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, NHS, districts and the National Probation Service and supports the Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the risk for victims, with Kent Police recording a 13% rise in domestic abuse related crime reports between March and November 2020, compared to the previous year, and Kent domestic abuse services have seen an increase in referrals.
The ‘Know, See, Speak Out’ awareness campaign led by Kent County Council and involving all partners encourages residents, businesses, and community groups to become informed about the crime, to regularly check in with friends, family, and colleagues even with lockdown restrictions lifting, and to understand where to signpost people to safety when needed. Victims’ lives depend on the ability to connect with routes to safety.
Get Help Now
If you or your family are in immediate danger please call the police on 999 (if you can’t speak, cough or tap the handset then press 55 on your phone – the police will know it’s an emergency)
In a non-emergency situation you can call Kent police on 101.
Oasis One Stop Shop for East Kent will be run over the phone until further notice.
For advice and support please call:
078 5685 6278
Monday – Thursday – 10am-12pm
You can ring 07718657160 or email RAISEreferrals@oasisdaservice.org to talk to the RAISE team who provide adult services or call the Early Intervention team who provide services for young people on 07718657157.
Workshops for women in refuge! What about men? Men often suffer coercive and controlling behaviour from their partners too you know?
Perhaps you could start your own workshops, seeing as you’ve identified a need.
While these are more resources for female abuse victims than male, which reflects the fact that domestic abuse is statistically much more likely to be directed at women by men, refuges for men do exist, and here are some resources, should you need them.