The Willows - Dawn's Story

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Rural domestic abuse is different. The sense of isolation, of being alone without support services or the means to travel to a place of safety.

The Willow Project, one of our projects, has worked with Rural Media to produce a film that highlights the challenges victims of domestic abuse face when they live in rural areas.

“The Willows” is about Dawn. The film starts with stunning drone footage of Dawn and her husband Peter driving their daughter to school along a remote Derbyshire lane. Peter stays in the car whilst Dawn drops their daughter at the school gate. It is easy to identify with Dawn’s discomfort, being delayed by teachers and friends wanting to draw her into conversation. Peter makes it clear that he is not happy when she returns to the car.

As the story unfolds we get a better understanding of how trapped she feels, how unhappy she is and of the wider family dynamic. Rural life can be hard, but it shouldn’t be this hard.

The key aim of the film is for it to be used to highlight the issues of rural domestic abuse.  The Willow Project is running rural domestic abuse awareness training seminars throughout Derbyshire. This training hopes to encourage people to become Champions in their local area to ‘Challenge attitudes and Change lives’.

The film has been made in two versions, one 20 minute long film and four 5 minutes episodes which form the main theme of the training seminars.  

Funding from the Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner got The Willow Project up and running last year and the Police & Crime Commissioner helped RAD to secure the necessary funding to get the film made.

Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, said;

"The Willow Project provides vital support to those affected by domestic abuse in rural areas. Domestic abuse is not confined to urban households. In fact, those at risk of abuse who live in rural areas are often more isolated and less able to seek help, purely due to their location.

The Willow Project understands that domestic abuse and coercive behaviour in rural areas may be presented in different ways, and its services are aimed specifically at those members of our rural communities who are at risk. If we can provide wraparound support services with the help of our partners and the voluntary sector, we will increase reporting, highlight the signals that someone needs help and protect many more people at risk of harm.”

With thanks to Rural Media who created the film during the pandemic.

The film is being launched on International Women's Day, 8th March at 1pm. If you would like to attend, please register on the website or contact Emily Brailsford at [email protected] or call 07594 088 858.