TIRELESS efforts from a Worcester domestic abuse survivor to teach yoga and yoga-therapy to other vulnerable women across the city have been boosted by a £10,000 National Lottery grant.
Kelly-Louise provides yoga and yoga-therapy to women supported by the JOY Project, run by the Worcester Community Trust. The Observer has withheld her surname at her request.
Sparked by own ordeal at the hands of a former partner, Kelly-Louise discovered yoga helped her feel safe and to begin to come to terms with the trauma caused by the abuse she suffered.
The courageous survivor wants to share the feeling of promise and of hope with women across the community.
“I met the father of my two children at 18 years of age. During our 15 years together I experienced physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse as well as coercive and controlling behaviour – at the time I did not recognise any of this as abuse,” she said.
“The abuse intensified and, eventually, I confided in a friend about what was happening.
“I was convinced to approach Women’s Aid and from then on things began to change. I attended the Freedom Programme, a nationwide course which helps women make sense of what has happened to them, instead of the whole experience just feeling like a horrible mess.”
After she completed the course, she removed herself from the abusive environment with help from solicitors, therapists, the police and social services. However, the lasting impact of abuse remains a challenge to many survivors.
“I began practising yoga and was fortunate my teacher was also a yoga-therapist. I began to feel safe enough to reconnect with my own body, after years of dissociating to protect myself from the trauma of the abuse,” Kelly-Louise said.
Several years of practice led her to undertake the extensive training required to become a yoga therapist and come to the aid of those suffering such conditions as diabetes, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression.
Yoga-therapy uses ancient practices such as breathing techniques and mindfulness in combination with the latest scientific advances in neuroscience and psychology.
“I now work with Worcester Community Trust and the JOY Project, offering therapeutic yoga classes, NHS approved courses and one-to-one yoga-therapy for women in the community,” she said.
“I am overjoyed in conjunction with St Stephen’s Church, Barbourne, we have been awarded £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to continue to offer yoga and yoga-therapy to women who might not otherwise be able to access such a service.”
Visit www.worcestercommunitytrust.org.uk/joy/ for more on the project which is open to any woman to connect with her community.