Mother of two, Gemma Muncaster from Doncaster who rebuilt her life with AVON as a National Field Trainer is helping to raise awareness of gender-based abuse by sharing her story as part of the beauty giant’s #EmbraceTheChange campaign.
To mark the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, from 25 November - 10 December, #EmbraceTheChange will shine a light on the different forms of non-physical abuse experienced by women around the world, including digital harassment, coercive control and emotional abuse.
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Nearly half of women in the UK report that they, or someone close to them, have been the victim of gender-based abuse. The most common form of abuse experienced by women is psychological*, yet over half of women are not confident that they know where to go to seek help*. In response to this, AVON aims to reach 10 million women across the UK by not only improving understanding of the forms abuse can take but crucially where to get support.
Gemma, who is in her thirties, hopes by sharing her story as part of AVON’s campaign can help other women recognize and escape abuse.
Gemma Muncaster said: “I was excited to meet a man who took care of me and my two sons. But a pattern of controlling and belittling behaviour rapidly deteriorated into a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. It left me isolated, bankrupt and vulnerable to further abuse.
“The first time he was physically violent, I left him and moved out with my sons. That was when I started working for AVON. The opportunity helped to improve my confidence and independence not just by having a company car and a good salary but through the relationships I was building. When my ex found out, he slit his wrists and sent me a video telling me it was my fault.
“I agreed to give him a second chance – the biggest mistake of my life. A few months later he tried to cut my throat. I used every ounce of fight in me to kick him off and press the panic alarm the police had fitted. The next morning, I was informed that he had killed himself.”
Four years on, Gemma and her sons are safe and well. Gemma is proud to be supporting the #EmbraceTheChange campaign to help other women recognise abuse and find the support they need to escape an abusive partner.
“When you are with an abusive partner, you laugh things off even when your gut tells you something is wrong. Abuse is not always a hit, punch or slap, but it is always wrong. It took every ounce of strength in me to deal with my abusive boyfriend, but I am so proud to now be able to help other women who are suffering. I hope AVON’s #EmbraceTheChange campaign helps women to recognise the signs of abuse and get out before it’s too late.
“If I can raise awareness by telling my story, then I will. This is what I’ve learned:
Listen to your gut. When your gut tells you something isn’t right, it is not right.
It is never just a hit, punch or slap, gender-based violence is wrong and all children should be taught that.
Sometimes it takes someone else to show you how things really are. If I hadn’t had the support of the police, and my friends and family, I might still be with him.
Abuse is not just physical. When he used to laugh at me, when he didn’t like me going out on my own, when he made me cry – that isn’t normal in a relationship, that’s cruel.
Make the most of opportunities – AVON offered me a way out, to earn my own money and become independent when I had no confidence. I’m so glad I took that opportunity.”
For more on the signs of abuse and where to find help, visit www.avon.uk.com/causes or for free information and support, 24 hours a day, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
*Based on AVON research 2018 report