I’m sure if you’ve been reading this blog you know I’m a huge supporter of Refuge, and will, if you give me half a chance, go on & on about how they need every penny they can get & possibly ask you to text RFTQ99 £1 to 70070 & donate a quid via text!
One of the things I did with Refuge last year was to share My Story with Refuge supporters & encourage people to run the Adidas 5K for the charity. It felt good to use something that is quite negative to hopefully encourage people to be more active, and raise money for a charity that needs & deserves it.
My name is Millie Lavelle and this year marks my 30th birthday. It also marks fifteen years since my mum was murdered by her ex partner, Rodney. She was killed while she was bathing my younger brother and sister.
For years my mum endured Rodney’s abusive behaviour and in 1995 she tried to end the relationship, only to find that the following day when we came home from school he had smashed up the whole house. My mum called the police and although Rodney was not charged the police told my mum they would hold him for as long as they possibly could.
We used that time to leave and go to Bedfordshire where my aunt lived. We took nothing with us- but then we had nothing left. A few says later mum spoke to the council but they told us to go back home because we had made ourselves homeless. We didn’t go back and instead I spent four months sleeping on an airbed in my aunt’s house.
Eventually we managed to get a small flat. My mum started her own business and we were doing well. However Rodney found us and he gradually became part of mum’s life again. But he hadn’t changed- he still stole whatever he could get his hands on, money, furniture, my mum’s sewing machine and jewellery. Mum asked Rodney to leave and he stole her handbag as he left. We called the police, but they weren’t interested at all. All they did was suggest that my mum change the locks and cancel her credit cards.
But Rodney’s controlling behaviour didn’t end there- on 6th January 1996 I came home to find an ambulance and two police cars outside our flat. A policeman took me into his car and explained that there had been an incident, and although they ambulance crew had done all they could, my mum was dead after being attacked by Rodney.
Rodney was caught six weeks later. He was later convicted of manslaughter because he pleaded diminished responsibility.
Looking back now I can see how isolated and alone my mum was as she struggled to bring us up on her own. She was terrified of Rodney, but she didn’t know how to get help. She didn’t know that Refuge was there to help her to stay safe and rebuild her life, and my life, free from violence and fear.
That’s why I ran the Great Manchester Run for Refuge this year- in memory of my mum. So many women feel just like my mum- alone, scared and confused. They feel they have no options, nowhere to turn. But that’s not the case- thanks to Refuge. Refuge runs a range of services which protect women and children living in fear: from refuges to legal advocacy and community outreach schemes. It gives women and children like my mum, me and my brother and sister a chance to start a new life in safety.
Refuge opened the world’s very first refuge 40 years ago. It now needs your support to survive, and to grow, so that it can reach out to more women like my mum. Please help ensure that Refuge can be here for as long as women and children need support by joining their special 40th birthday team at the adidas Women’s 5K on September 11.
Visit https://www.womenschallenge.co.uk/onlineentry/. Places cost £15. Please select Refuge from drop down menu A, and tick the box so that they can send you a fundraising pack and a Refuge team t shirt.
You can also make a donation to help support Refuge’s life changing work just ‘RRUN40 £10’ to 70070 or £5 or £2- whatever you can give will make a huge difference to Refuge.
On behalf of my family and the thousands of women and children Refuge supports- thank you
Jessica @ Refuge was great, understanding & extremely helpful whilst I was writing it, and knew that whilst this is My Story there are also other people involved, my brother & sister, my Aunt & Uncles, my Grandparents and I was mindful that they could be upset by me sharing something that is quite a private issue.
One of the thing that struck me the most when writing my story was that it wasn’t that there was no one to help, if my Mum had reached out to my family they would have been there in a flash, and when we moved they were there for us, but because of the shame associated with Domestic Violence and that most women who suffer through it believe it’s their own fault, my mum never made the step to seek help, until it was too late.
A little while a go I received a letter through the post. It turned out to be a card & gift from Jessica & all at Refuge.
I must admit I cried! I was part of helping Refuge raise almost £26,000 by sharing My Story is amazing, and Jessica had taken the time to send me a hand written card to say thanks, and all I did was write out My Story.
Get to the point Millie!
Well I guess the point of this post is three way love fest of thanks!
Firstly, if you’ve donated to Refuge because of my rambling, badgering or whim, THANK YOU!You have helped save lives.
Secondly, if you ran the Adidas 5K for Refuge, or did any running for Refuge, Thank You & Please keep going. And Hey, how about joining me for a Marathon in October?!
Thirdly, To everyone at every level of Refuge THANK YOU. You save lives & you change lives on a daily basis. YOU’RE AWESOME.
Just one more thing…
While you’ve waded through this post take 2 more minutes to click the picture & join the Red / Refuge campaign. The aim of Speak Up, Save a Life is to ask that every police force in the country works alongside an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate in its work to prevent domestic violence and help save lives. 100,000 signatures are needed so this debate can go to the House of Commons.
All you need to add is your name & your email addres.
Oh an I was serious about joining me for that Marathon, anyone a taker?