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Anti-abuse campaigner named to list of global role models

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of Centre Against Abuse (Photograph supplied)

The leader of a domestic violence support agency has been named among other campaigners from around the world in a list of role models working to end attacks on women.

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of Centre Against Abuse, was one of 16 people featured by The Pixel Project, an online organisation that raises awareness about violence against women.

She was listed alongside other “heroines” including the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and champion of women’s rights.

Ms Shiell said: “It was an incredible honour to receive that notification because I didn’t even know I was nominated.”

She was featured in an interview on the The Pixel Project website last year.

Ms Shiell said then: “My grandmother was a great proponent of stopping violence against women.

“She was raised in an extremely abusive household, with an abusive father.

“It was her desire that she would end that cycle of abuse from her side of the family, and so she spoke to her children about this behaviour, and also to me and my sister quite regularly about what she endured as a child, and how not to follow that behaviour.

“My grandmother married a man that was the perfect example for her children and grandchildren on how a man treats a woman.

“She freed herself from the cycle of abuse.”

Ms Shiell said she believed the recognition helped to raise awareness about domestic abuse as well as services offered by the CAA.

She added: “Some people don’t know what abuse is; they think they’re in a difficult relationship rather than an abusive relationship.”

Ms Shiell said this year has led to additional challenges for people suffering in abusive relationships.

She explained: “We talk about how 2020 will definitely go down in the history books as the year that the Earth stood still.

“While that was a joyous time and people could spend quality time that they might never have had before with their family, for others that was a horrendous time – they had nowhere to escape.”

She pointed out that people who suffered domestic abuse often found respite at their workplace but that was not possible when businesses closed their doors or staff worked from home.

Ms Shiell added: “Someone who would probably be nice to them at times was now becoming too much, abuse was becoming full-time rather than part-time.

“Now we have the festive season upon us, as well as Covid, as well as a number of people have lost their jobs – the trifecta … it makes for an unpleasant time.

“To those we say, we are here for you when you are ready to make that move, to receive help.”

Looking ahead to the holiday season, she highlighted that alcohol is not what makes someone violent.

Ms Shiell explained: “Alcohol makes an abuser more abusive.”

She added: “When we say abusive, you’re abusive to a certain person and you will be OK with everybody else.

“If you’re nasty to everyone, that’s when you probably have an anger problem.”

Ms Shiell said: “You can be nice to everybody and just nasty to one – you made that choice to be nasty to that person, that’s not the alcohol.”

• For more information, visit the CAA’s website at centreagainstabuse.bm or the organisation’s Facebook page. The 24-hour hotline number for support is 297-8278.

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Published December 17, 2020 at 7:55 am (Updated December 16, 2020 at 6:40 pm)

Anti-abuse campaigner named to list of global role models

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