Over 170 DN Colleges students and staff registered to have the opportunity to listen to domestic abuse survivor, Lilly Lewis, share her story on International Women’s Day. Lilly spoke candidly about her experiences in abusive relationships as well as her time in prison that stemmed from her abusive situation. This was a great chance for Lilly to showcase her new position at In2Change South Yorkshire, and to highlight her ‘lived experiences’ to staff and students, not only to listen to her story of her surviving these adversities, but also to get help and advice about any situations that they, or someone they know, may be experiencing.
Lilly shared her experiences in prison and lessons she learned about life and abuse, saying “we need to start talking more and encouraging people to leave these situations, with more support”. After being moved to an open prison and being able to offer her time as a volunteer at In2Change (working with disadvantaged young people), as well as also working in a garden centre Lilly learned a valuable lesson that has stayed with her throughout life; “We are much like plants. It’s not what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside. If we nurture and care for our roots, then we will flower every year”.
Student Support Lead Practitioner, Natalie Marshall, who helped to organise this talk with Hanif Mohammed, Programme Director of In2Change South Yorkshire Ltd, commented “We were absolutely thrilled to welcome Lilly to mark International Women’s Day. Our students tell us they really value listening to people with real life experience and learn so much from their stories. Lilly’s story is so powerful, and it inspired members of the audience to seek some support for their own experiences and emotions”
The feedback from students and staff after the talk from Lilly showed just how important and impactful opportunities like this are. One person wrote “This is such an inspirational and emotional story. I am interested in supporting people who have experienced domestic abuse and this event has been very inspirational.”. While another student said, “Thank you Lilly for sharing your story and showing your bravery and courage to others.”
There are lots of ways you can get help both in College and externally. If you need support or know someone who does please email firstname.lastname@example.org.