At this time of year, our minds are full of objects. What object will mum want? What object will our best friend want? What object will mean something to someone and give them a feeling that endures beyond a day?
While many will leave only a fleeting impression of joy, other objects become axes of importance around which we pivot our lives. An escape from reality; a focal point when all else is blurry; a lifeline when safety is just out of reach.
One in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. There is no "typical survivor": they are women of all ages, all backgrounds, all ethnic groups. Some with children, some without. A recent government pledge of £3 million to domestic violence services is, as Sisters Uncut call it, a "sticking plaster" over the devastating wound austerity has inflicted on vital women’s services. Women’s Aid found that on one day in 2015, 92 women and 75 children were turned away from refuges – for nearly half of them, this was because there was no room. They will be turned away at Christmas, too, a time when police forces across the UK report a "seasonal spike" in domestic abuse.
Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. They keep survivors' voices at the heart of their work, listening carefully to individual needs in order to act safely.
This Christmas, we have worked closely with Women’s Aid to share stories of survival from six women, told through the objects that gave them strength.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Calls are free and will be answered in confidence.