Healthcare survivor

There is a special bond that forms between women in the absence of men

My adult life has been marred by bullying, invariably by men, especially those in positions of power, but also from those with whom I was intimate.

I experienced verbal and psychological abuse from my husband, directed at me and my children. I was fortunate to be directed to my local DV shelter by a friend. We did not have to move in, but received help from the wonderful women who worked there.

As I age, I find more and more relief in the company of women. There is a special bond that forms between women in the absence of men. The space feels safer and warmer, and women respond differently to one another when not subjected to the male gaze.

That women who need single-sex spaces for recovery can have that taken from them by the insistence by men who claim to be are women is almost impossibly painful. Those spaces have been set up by women, for women. I feel so angry when men demand the right to enter.

I have responded online to consultations, written to MPs and MSPs. I have donated online to campaign for women’s rights. I have spoken out on social media, using my own name, despite threats of violence, and to my career.

Until last year, I was tied up in an unhappy marriage and too unwell to travel. Now coronavirus is interfering with my freedom, but I hope to join up with other women in the near future, either to meet with  ReSisters group, or attend an organised meeting.

I have received public threats on Twitter, both of physical harm and threats to my career, one of which was a credible threat to report me to the governing body of my profession, which fortunately was not carried through.

I am fortunate to have lived in a place where I was physically out of reach for physical threats or UK police reports and therefore I have felt able to speak more freely than otherwise.

Sarah, 50ish human female