‘Women shouldn’t be defined by abusive past’ says campaigner

A woman who endured appalling domestic abuse through coercive control by her former husband and is now a campaigner to help other victims, with support and encouragement from Croydon’s first woman MP.

Campaigning to stop abuse: Andrea Aviet

Andrea Aviet is using events around today’s International Women’s Day to speak out on behalf of victims and help women to move forward with their lives.

“I know what it’s like. I went through hell,” Aviet said.

“You end up blaming yourself and it’s too easy to remain trapped by the past even after escaping domestic abuse. I was determined to take back control of my life and I want to empower other women to do the same.

“Part of that journey for me was regaining self-respect, looking after myself. I found if I looked good, I felt good about myself and empowered to sort out my life and my finances. So, I tell other women they can be glamorous without guilt.”

Aviet self-published a book about her experiences: White Sorrow charts her journey from a dream wedding that descended into a nightmare marriage of starvation and mental torture, only summoning the courage to escape her controlling husband when she feared for the safety of her two young children.

Aviet was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2019 for her services to domestic abuse victims and survivors.

“The pandemic has been a dark time for many women either trapped in an abusive relationship or struggling to overcome the trauma while isolated from friends and family,” she said.

Last weekend, she staged a “Look Good, Feel Good” event at New Addington Leisure Centre to provide women with the tools needed to build their confidence and future. In addition to providing free mini-makeovers, massages, mindfulness and pampering sessions, there were empowering and inspirational talks.

The Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Sherwan Chowdhury, attended the event, and Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central, sent a message of support: “International Women’s Day is important for all women to feel empowered to be the best that they can be.

“There’s so much work to be done, so much inequality still to tackle. This is a great day organised by Andrea and her colleagues. Well done to everyone involved.”

Aviet said, “This event was so successful because of the people who helped make it happen. Especially Noveen Sheraz who helped with all the shopping for decorations, making the food and posting on social media; plus Marie Bartlett, Carmen Vela and Angela Baker, who were invaluable.

“Without them I would not have had the support and leg work needed to help pull this off. Everyone played their part.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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