Wolverhampton woman raising domestic violence awareness through lived experience
An inspiring woman from Wolverhampton is hosting an online event to raise awareness about domestic violence, both towards women and men.
Farisai Dzemwa, 48, who herself suffered years of abuse in her homeland, is hoping the virtual workshop will help those struggling with physical and psychological abuse from a spouse, partner or family member.
Having lived through her own traumatic experience as a sexually abused teenager in Harare, the Zimbabwean has rebuilt her life in the UK and now works towards assisting others in similar situations.
After leaving Zimbabwe in 2010, Dzemwa developed her skills to become a mental health nurse in Wolverhampton, trained to be a Health Champion with MiFriendly Cities, a community journalist with Migrant Voice and started her own support network, the Community Integration Hub.
Ahead of her support event this weekend, I had the opportunity to chat to Farisai and get an insight into her mission:
INTERVIEW: Farisai Dzemwa
Farisai, tell me more about yourself.
I live in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, am mother to a 24-year-old son and I am passionate about the positive quality of life for all.
I’m a certified NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practitioner, practitioner of timelines, and a Mental Health professional. Being both a community ‘Health Champion’ and community journalist is a passion that allows me to contribute to communities and society as we step into a globalised world.
On top of this, I’m also a facilitator of self-discovery, to establish self-love so that when we give it we have an idea of what love feels like.” My passion is mindset transformation for the purpose of Integration and positivity all around.
What inspires you most to keep going?
My contribution to integration and positive communities is strongly inspired by my passion to give back. This is because throughout my life whenever I have faced challenges, some quite traumatic, I have always found myself rising up again, not because I am that powerful but because I got help from many different people in the many parts of the world that I have found myself in.
From all walks of life and nationalities, I have found everyone I encounter almost always ends up like a relative or friend. This has inspired me to give back.
What is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAW)?
To me, domestic violence (DV) is any form of behaviour or attitude that is displayed with the intention to either limit or control another unfairly and that is self-gratifying even at the expense of the other in domestic settings ie is the home, household or family setting.
Women’s Aid defines it as an incident or a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercing, threatening, degrading, and of a violent nature including sexual abuse by a partner in most cases but could also be by a family member.
Citizens Advice defines it as coercive and threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse between people aged over 16 and it doesn’t matter your age, gender, or sexuality. The three bring out the true definition, I believe.
Why is this event important?
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is in October and it the time when more focus is paid to the subject. Organisations and individuals take part in building awareness through various forms such as events, workshops, storytelling, even film shows.
It is important because it gives much time to highlight all there is to know about DV. Whole recommendations are also made, especially when this topic is generally one that gets avoided by almost all societies like it’s a plague.
Would you please tell us more about the event you’re hosting?
My motive for this year’s event has been fuelled by my own lived life experience that damaged my life so much that what I had established as a coping mechanism ended up working against me and led me to be in a car accident that most people could not understand. That accident was a great lightbulb moment for me because it showed me just how much DV affects one’s all-round life and even has ripple effects that are detrimental to just about anyone that person encounters.
This does nothing to build the positive communities and lifestyles that I said I am passionate about. While recovering from my injuries from the accident, I researched and reflected and found that though statistics are out there. There are a huge number of cases and incidents that go untold and unaccounted for which means there is a huge number of perpetrators that go to free and prey on vulnerable people across the board.
Thus l chose to do an event with like-minded people who have decided to share their stories and so reveal this reality so that we start to change the narrative about this subject.
When, where and why is the event being held?
The event will be on the Saturday 31 October at 5pm, and it is going to be a virtual online event which means the whole world is welcome on Zoom. It will start from 5pm UK time and will finish at about 9pm, but might spill over an extra hour if history serves a judgment of timeframe.
I am inviting people to come with an open mind, prepared to consider aspects that are rarely talked about or considered when plans, policies, and services are being created.
Self-help is the initial step to recovery, and by that I mean it starts with an individual loving themselves enough to know they deserve more out of life and take that first step by seeking the help they need.
The team I’m working with on this is available to help if anyone needs help after the event but that’s not to say we claim to have all the answers. Collaboration is key and we are well happy to signpost where we feel we lack the expertise.
WATCH | Morshed Akhtar interviews Farisai Dzemwa about domestic violence:
This article was written by Morshed Akhtar from Walsall, who is training as a citizen journalist with Migrant Voice and MiFriendly Cities’ ‘Media Lab’ initiative – a project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative. To find out more about how I Am Birmingham is supporting the project, read here.