Interview Date: May, 2011
Cathy: Tell me about how you became involved with Restored?
Natalie: I became involved with Restored after I had been in an abusive relationship. I got a lot of help and I began to understand what had been happening in that relationship.
Cathy: What is the purpose of Restored?
Natalie: Restored is an international alliance working to end violence against women – we have members from across the world. The work of Restored includes raising awareness about issues related to violence against women and about how we can transform women’s lives. We are based in the UK and we focus on specific issues there as well, because we want to deal with our own problems before we try to tell others what to do. We want to engage men, so we have started a program called First Man Standing.
Cathy: You have a particular project with Restored. Can you talk about that?
Natalie: Yes, the project is called “Day” and it’s a youth domestic abuse education program. It’s aimed at enabling young people to recognize abusive behaviours and perhaps understand where those behaviours come from and how we can do something about them. We want to help youth recognize that actually so much of abuse is normalized.
Cathy: What would you say is the greatest blessing in the work that you do?
Natalie: I think it is the hope of lives being changed; of women being set free; and of young people being enabled to get into healthy relationships. To see the potential of the truth of Jesus being brought to people’s lives is so, so exciting.
Cathy: Along with that, what would you say is the biggest challenge that you face in your work?
Natalie: The biggest challenge is the churches’ difficulty with understanding domestic abuse and the misuse and abuse of theology. It’s difficult to see Jesus’ teaching about relationships and women being used to abuse women. Also the apathy – that people don’t recognize that the abuse of women is at the root of so much that is wrong in our society. All of the other problems flow from this. It’s so frustrating that this is not on people’s agenda – one of the biggest challenges is getting it onto the agenda.
Cathy: Do you present the Day program exclusively to church groups?
Natalie: Secular groups have been interested in the program until now – which speaks to the lack of awareness in churches. It can be run in a Christian or secular group. The sessions are slightly different depending on the group.
Cathy: If you had any advice to give to other survivors who are interested in helping others, what would you say to them?
Natalie: First and foremost, the absolute foundation is dealing with our beliefs and attitudes. Before we can start doing this work, we’ve got to look very hard at ourselves and understand our attitudes and beliefs about women who are abused, about men who act abusively, and about why abuse happens. The work starts with looking at your own personal attitudes and relationships. If you are in a healthy place, then you are in a place of freedom.
Cathy: Can you give me an example of one of your beliefs or attitudes that you dealt with?
Natalie: I believed that domestic abuse happened to “those women.” I thought that “those women” were not like me, yet I was a victim of domestic abuse. I didn’t believe that it could happen to me. As a young person, I thought violence happened to older people. I realized that abuse wasn’t about “those women” but it was actually about “those men.” I had to change the belief that women are somehow responsible for their abuse. That was a really big thing for me.