International Women’s Day 2019 #IWD2019
March 7th, 2019
Through our work in A&E and at The Well Centre, we meet and work with young women who show incredible resilience to move on from trauma they may have experienced in their lives. To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we’d like to share a one of their stories – a story of the bravery and strength that we see in young women everyday.
Amelia*, 19 came to St George’s Hospital last year because she was experiencing heavy bleeding and was worried she might be miscarrying. Through conversations with the hospital staff, the nurses felt Amelia may be at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and at risk of harm from gangs. The hospital staff referred Amelia to the Redthread team.
Redthread’s Young Women’s Worker Jess, part of the I Define Me programme funded by Comic Relief, was able to speak to Amelia over the phone to introduce the service and how Jess might be able to provide some support. Amelia said that she was open to support and agreed to meet with Jess to discuss what this would look like. Due to potential risks in the community, it was agreed that this initial session should take place in her local youth club as she attended there so it wouldn’t appear out of the ordinary if she was seen going into the building.
When Jess met Amelia, she disclosed how she had experienced a number of abusive relationships, was sexually active and wasn’t using protection. Amelia also told Jess about incidents where she had been approached in the community by people carrying knives. Amelia shared that she was at risk of domestic violence at home and wasn’t attending school due to high levels of anxiety. Amelia also disclosed that she had recently told her family that she was bi-sexual which they weren’t accepting so was feeling very low and was describing feelings of hopelessness. Amelia felt unable to believe that her situation could change.
Jess and Amelia met up and spoke over the phone regularly for over a year. During that time, Jess advocated within her professional network for her to be moved into a semi-independent housing so that she could be safe, able to explore who she is and be comfortable with her identity.
Jess provided support to Amelia around improving her feelings of self-worth. Jess continues to support Amelia around positive relationships and has helped her to explore her feelings around this and to establish that she deserves a healthy, safe relationship. She is now comfortable enough in what she deserves and feels she is able to stand up for herself when people have tried to challenge this.
When Amelia first came into St George’s Hospital, she didn’t feel able to access physical, mental and sexual health care beyond taking herself to A&E. She now regularly accesses support in all of these areas, booking appointments herself and no longer feels intimidated to do so.
Amelia is now able to reflect on what led her to be vulnerable to exploitation from gangs and is able to understand how to avoid this from happening in her future.
“The biggest change I have noticed is that Amelia is now talking positively about her plans for the future and believes that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. It is a privilege that Amelia trusts the Young Women’s Service enough to have allowed us to be a part of her story.” – Jess
*Name and identifiable features have been changed
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