This is not the most pleasant of ways to introduce my new blogs for harmless, but most definitely an important one. Both personally as a victim, a professional but more so as a society; because we need to talk more about it abuse. However as a victim, I am past awareness and think I can safely say many of us are.  Because let’s face it, we are more than aware abuse happens it just sits more comfortably to bury it, both as a society and individually.

If I had a pound for every time someone told me “you don’t really need to tell them, it will upset them” I would be a rich women. The burden sits so heavily on victims; to prove, to know when it’s ok to share, to heal, to manage others feelings of your abuse and to “blend in” like it never happened. Well I refuse to blend in; because it happened and denying it might be easier for you, but it’s invalidating for us.

I like to think some part of people not believing victims comes from a good place, because I like to believe that beneath the narcissistic society we are creating that we still know how to be human. Humans naturally find it easier to accept more positive things, things that sit better with us and thanks to the conformation bias of social media you can now be fed your own version of truth constantly. Here’s an example, victim vs perpetrator; the victim shares a gruesome event, the by stander can barely hear it. The perpetrator sugar coats, scape goats and it sits more easily with the by stander, so automatically although wrongly it becomes easier to accept. After all who wants to believe someone is a monster? Just as victims are daughters and sons, perpetrators are also. Of course misogyny is the chocolate to the digestive of this crap biscuit and plays a huge part in resistance, but needless to say it’s a sad and prevalent tale of events.

The #metoo movement was a prime example. Various people, ranting of stories made up for attention. Misogynist fantasizing of gaggles of women around cauldrons stirring me too stories, rubbing their hands together that patriarchy may finally collapse? Get real. It’s not to say that people do not make false accusations but the vast majority and then some more will and have been abused.

I will let you into a secret, to those that think there is something to gain from having a #metoo story…there isn’t. Unless that gain is disappointment sandwiched between trauma and injustice. The truth is, being a victim is already a really isolating and scary experience, without being trolled by someone with a toxic masculinity complex.

As a child hood survivor I often found myself desperate to attain the “normality” that those that aren’t victims had. I tried to be quiet, get on with it, go to my therapy and work hard for my silver lining. Only to get a silver lining and find it’s lined with asbestos and that justice is as much a fairy tale as those Disney princess films I was dragged through as a child. I spent so long thinking someone will save me from the feeling of it; the police, family, my therapist. I remember my therapist telling me when I was 16 “it will never leave you but one day you will know how to live with it”. It took several years to realise I was actually more ok with living with it than anyone else around me. Because I have accepted what happened was wrong, it wasn’t my fault, nothing could have been done and no justice will be found. What I would like is for my abuse to be accepted by society, not shrugged off as the unspoken topic or turned into some hysterical narrative. Because my abuse is a part of me whether I or others like it or not, it shaped me into realising my capability and strength. No, I am not thankful for it and its not some profound comment that “my abuse made me who I am”, hell no I will take that credit thank you. I (and my various wonderful therapists) made me who I am.

My progression in recovering has been my truth; it’s been wearing it fearlessly, shamelessly and unapologetically. So if you are reading this as a victim, keep your truth with you and never ever be ashamed. There is freedom within it, but the path to it is to be paved by you. Just make sure others help you lay the slabs, or you will do your back in. Do not carry it all alone.

Have you been following our amazing project about a celebration of womanhood?

Here is our photographer Thomas, in a rare shot of himself at a shoot with the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The project is focused upon exploring what it means to be a woman, looking at the individuality of woman hood and paying attention to the needs, vulnerabilities and strengths of women as we try to raise the profile of female suicide.
The exhibition will be held on the 8/3/20 @backlitgallery – please get in touch for tickets or book via the eventbrite link in our bio.
On the day we learn that @carolineflack has taken her own life, never has femalesuicide been a more necessary conversation.
suicideprevention suicide women femalesuicide rip women feminism
via Instagram

CEO contributes to BBC Radio 4 podcast on female suicide

Yesterday Panorama featured a story about Callie, taking a look at the role suicide forums played in the death of a 24-year-old girl with autism and challenge the NHS over, what they have acknowledged as, failings in her care.

The programme highlights how important it is to have safe online spaces where people can share feelings and get support. Callie’s story is a stark reminder that there are still many unsafe spaces.

Caroline Harroe nipped into BBC Radio 4 to do an interview for their Beyond Today podcast series where she was asked about how we help understand the needs of women who are suicidal and how we help to create hope in the most hopeless of spaces. The podcast episode is a further exploration of the themes explored in the programme.

Listen here

Thank you Happy Daze!

All of us here at Harmless & The Tomorrow Project would like to extend a big thank you to Alex and Craig Earley who run the Happy Daze shop in Beeston.

They have been doing some amazing fundraising in the form of a raffle over the past couple of months  to raise money for The Tomorrow Project.

They had a target of £500 but have totally smashed it to raise a fantastic £618 for our suicide prevention services!

Thank you to both Alex and Craig and to all those who purchased tickets for the raffle. Your amazing support really does help us to support more people in need and help us in our mission to save lives.

Want to meet our next amazing woman?

The next in our series of images celebrating the needs, vulnerabilities and most importantly, the strengths of women introduces @thesarahmanton

Sarah runs Curious in Snienton Market creating designs from paper for her clients, twice for the royal family. She’s now also working on The People’s Forest, a project that is aiming to plant new trees throughout Nottingham in order to reconnect the city with Sherwood Forest.


A Derbyshire photo appeal

Hi there! Tom here from the suicide bereavement team working across Derbyshire. You might have heard that we have recently extended our support service to the beautiful Derbyshire county. If you haven’t, a warm hello to you! Our suicide bereavement pathway is now supporting anyone bereaved and affected by suicide in Derby and Derbyshire.

Setting up a new service has been equal parts challenging and exciting…

When we were furnishing our office we got to the stage where we had the desks, the computers, the chairs and the cushions and it started to feel like a proper therapeutic setting. A place where you can come in, sit down with a warm cup of tea and feel safe and comfortable.  Welcoming and cosy, professional but relaxed. We still have a way to go (having a welcoming base is essential, yet only the start), and right now we have lots of wall space, mostly bare.

That was when my colleague Lisa came up with the idea of having photos of our local and best landmarks, views and fantastic places that we’re all so used to we might forget how beautiful they are. So we picked a few of our favourites, where we like to go and recharge our minds and bodies after a busy week. Have a look below! Now what we would really love is to have some pictures taken by you of your favourite places in the area – are you up to the challenge? Contact us on bereavement.derbys@tomorrowproject.org.uk. And if you have some old photo frames that you don’t need any more and we could have, we also need those! Help us in providing this vital and so much needed support, be part of change.

Tom, Lisa & Ana

Training across the field of wellbeing. Book with us, save a life!

Did you know you can view and book many of our training courses via eventbrite?

Have a look.


If you want anything bespoke or for a team email training@harmless.org.uk – we CAN do it!

All monies raised fund life saving services- be a part of the solution by booking training with us!

Time to talk day

On Time to Talk Day we want everyone to have a conversation about mental health – whether that’s texting a friend, chatting to a colleague or organising a stigma-busting event.

We know that talking about mental health can feel awkward, but it doesn’t have to. This year, we’re using the popular game ‘Would you rather?’ to help break the ice and get the conversation flowing.

We would like everyone who reads this to brave one conversation or enquiry that they wouldn’t normally.

We know that people who need to talk can find it hard to ask. We know that people who are suicidal draw upon their previous negative experiences which then dictates not reaching out.

Let’s all be the change we want to see. And watch this film it is a film we were involved with where our client Katherine shares her experiences of suicide bereavement and seeking help.

Conferences, meetings and more…

For two days last week, I and various members of my team, have been in London.

On Tuesday, we attended the National suicide prevention alliance annual conference where 300 delegates attended to explore various themes in relation to suicide, suicide prevention and suicide bereavement. A really rich program brought together discussions and stories that helped us remain focused upon the suicide prevention agenda which is everyone’s business.

I did not attend last year due to maternity leave and what has been beautiful to reflect upon is the growth and the perspective and the change that happens when committed and passionate, and often deeply impacted individuals, come together for the greater good and for a social cause.

I will be certain in my own work and corner of the world, to continue that fight for all individuals to have access to services and support when they need it the most.

Please, if you are an organisation that comes into contact with vulnerable individuals then please consider joining the NSPA and look at the hub of information that may help you in your everyday work.


Have you seen the female suicide conference lineup?

We are so proud to be hosting the first national conference examining female suicide and to be bringing people from across the world and the UK together to look at this very important issue.

The calibre of those people coming to present and to share their experiences are high and we welcome people from all over the UK, but in particular we would like to say a special thank you to Katrina.

Katrina is travelling from the University of southern Australia to share with us and co-facilitate a workshop with myself around the invalidating use of language about women in the mental health system.

I am really looking forward to this collaboration because it will give us an opportunity to really look at what words do to other people. 

We recognise historically that words are used against particular groups of people to blame them or name them or shame them.

We are able to reflect back on the time of witchcraft and on periods in history where women have been placed in a particular cultural and societal position and the language that has accompanied this positioning.

We are able to reflect on more recent shifts and the #metoo movement which really has given a voice to many women who have been sexually mistreated by others, often as a matter of the course of their life.

But how well do we examine the everyday language and words that we use to describe women especially in those services who are meant to protect the vulnerable?

In my experience as someone who has faced emotional difficulties and self harm and now works as a professional within that mental health system, there is still a great deal of invalidating and powerful language used against women.

We know now for instance, that self harm is a predictor of risk especially associated with suicide. 

We know that young females are demonstrating the fastest growing rate of suicide and of those people who died by suicide in the most recent statistics 88% had a history of self harm. Yet, I would argue that the group of people most invalidated for their emotional experience is that of young females. 

Every day I hear individuals in the community, parents and carers, and sadly professionals refer to this group of people without concern. 

We often say things like ‘they are doing it to fit in with their friends’, ‘it is just a fad’, ‘they’ve only split up with their boyfriend’, and we refer to this group of women as hysterical just as in the past we have labelled women hysterical. When we do that we also offer them access to help.

Nowadays this language should have moved on, but it seems that we have accepted a narrative about young women that we don’t often enough question.

Now is the time to question it. 

We know that the reason people describe for not seeking help when they are suicidal is a poor previous experience of contact with services. 

If we listen to the user-narrative, especially those of women, they will tell us that they feel invalidated. They tell us that no one listened when they said they were suffering. If we miss those opportunities to listen and hear that someone is suffering without using a tone of language that invalidates that suffering, we are missing an opportunity to intervene. 

At the forthcoming conference we will be looking at how we develop the knowledge and skills to enhance our practice not only in a direct manner but also in the subtleties of language that we use with or without intention and I look forward to welcoming you to our workshop and welcoming Katrina to the UK.

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