WAO Winter Newsletter 2023

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Hello and welcome to Women’s Aid Orkney’s Winter Newsletter.


  • “I feel almost reborn into a new mind.”
  • Knowing her legal rights and using them to take steps to protect herself and her family.
  • Children deciding their support is no longer required as they feel in a better place.
  • Being able to see through behaviours and realise they’re part of the abuse and not her fault.
  • “So happy that things seem to fall into place and make sense, giving me hope I will sooner or later, find my own place in the world too.”
  • Having confidence in herself and being able to hold firm boundaries in all areas of her life.
  • Being able to leave the house and take part in group activities.




Domestic abuse in the workplace policy

For this years 16 Days of Action, we have been reaching out to local businesses to help them implement a domestic abuse policy into their workplace. We want companies to be aware of how crucial it is for employers to be aware of domestic abuse and the effects it can have both to the person and their employers business. As well as offering a Domestic Abuse in the Workplace Policy, we can provide training on the dynamics of domestic abuse.

Research shows that up to 75% of employed people who have experienced domestic abuse are harassed by their abuser while at work.

A Home Office Report found that 20% of people who had experienced domestic abuse had to take a month or more off work due to the abuse. 56% of abused women arrive late for work at least 5 times a month and 53% miss at least 3 days of work a month.

We would like to help directors, managers and HR to become more aware of what could potentially be the cause of staff absence and become confident in recognising signs of domestic abuse.

If you would like to find out more about the training we offer or our Domestic Abuse in the Workplace Policy, please email – info@womensaidorkney.org.uk

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the business that now have a Domestic Abuse in the Workplace Policy and we look forward to delivering training with them in the new year.

WAO’s Wonderful Christmas Raffle

We have a very exciting raffle available on our website, with some amazing prizes to be won, including –

Tickets for our raffle are £3 and you can enter as many times as you like. Follow the link below to enter. Good luck!

Food & Toy Donation Station at Lidl

Lidl’s have their Bear’s toy bank again in Store. You can find the donation box just before the exit door, next to our food donation basket. Donated toys need to be brand new and unwrapped, all toys go straight to children and young people in our service. We are incredibly grateful for any donation and could make a child very happy this Christmas. The food donation basket also really helps families in our service at this time of year. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated toys and food!


We have a WAO Wish List on Amazon, if you would like to send us something, we would be incredibly grateful & it could really make someone’s day.  https://smile.amazon.co.uk/…/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1

Christmas Opening Times


Special Thanks…

  • Huge thank you to Ken and Erika for their help with our Christmas raffle and to all the business that donated prizes.
  • The Wonderful pupils currently doing the Get Ready to Volunteer course at KGS, for their help creating pamper packs for Christmas.
  • Thanks to The Hygge Clinic for their support over Christmas.
  •  Huge thanks to the Salvation Army and our other wonderful generous donators for the fabulous toys for the children within our service! We are more than blown away by the kindness and it will make a huge difference to the children we support.
  • Catherine at Moonshine Candles, for her generous donation.
  • Natalie from OML for the brilliant training.
  • Joe at CAB for being so helpful in supporting a service user.
  • Huge thank you to the Kirkwall Coast Guards for their generous donation.
  • To all of the Women’s Aids around the UK who offer safety, support and refuge to women fleeing Orkney due to domestic abuse.
  • To all of the people and organisations, both within and without Orkney who have worked with us to keep women, children and young people safer from domestic abuse.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the business that have supported us with our fundraising events this year.

On Saturday 23rd of September we held a table top sale and raffle that raised a wonderful £818.87. Without the donations of raffle prizes this wouldn’t have been possible.

thank you card on top of an envelope
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WAO Spring Newsletter 2024

pink flowers in white vase
Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

Hello and welcome to Women’s Aid Orkney’s Spring Newsletter.


  • ‘I wish I could come every day to see you’ – CYP
  • “I am so grateful to have you to speak too and that this had been the support I needed in my life. I didn’t realize I needed it but that this support had given me chance to be who I want to be and I feel I can do this because I have you behind me”
  • “I learnt to trust people again, because of you”
  • “My sessions are incredibly beneficial. My support worker immediately made me feel at ease discussing my issues and has been able to help me through the worst times I have faced throughout my life. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through these past few years without the support I have received”
  • ‘The kids said they more than enjoyed the session! And enjoyed is too little of a word.’
  • ‘I love you and seeing you’ – CYP

Currently Supporting 87 Women

Currently supporting 48 Children & Young People

Currently supporting 7 families

Family Forward survey

Our family service – Family Forward are looking for some feedback. We would be very grateful if you would complete this very short anonymous survey.


WAO Pop-Up Shop

We have a Pop_up Shop happening on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th of April at The Strategy Collective, it’s above Logo on Albert Street. we will be open 10am – 4pm.

We have curated a beautiful selection of pre-loved women’s clothing and accessories, all in excellent condition and some brand new with tags. We have a huge range of sizes and styles and some designer and high end pieces.


Roosa hosted a wonderful session with Katie from The Wild Table in the Stromness Library on the 26th of March.

It was an incredibly relaxing and informative few hours learning how to create beautiful table centrepieces. All of which were stunningly individual.

A special thanks to Katie and the lovely folk that came along.

Roosa is looking forward to the remaining planned wellbeing sessions.  

Sleep Wellness with Angela on the 16th of April.

Mindful painting with Laura Drever on the 30th of April

Introduction to Aromatherapy with Debbie on the 14th of May

To book a place on these upcoming sessions an Eventbrite page will be shared on all our Social Media platforms.

These are all free to attend but donations are welcome, or you can purchase some raffle tickets available at each session (£1 a Strip)

Much gratitude goes to the fab shops in Stromness for their donated prizes.

The Quernstone

Lilly & Lane


The Leviathan


Fletts Butchers

Skaill House


WAO’s Quiz Evening

Women’s Aid Orkney will be hosting a quiz Evening every Thursday in May at The Auld Motorhoose. We still have some tables available, if you would like to book, please email – info@womensaidorkney.org.uk


We have a WAO Wish List on Amazon, if you would like to send us something, we would be incredibly grateful & it could really make someone’s day.  https://smile.amazon.co.uk/…/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1



  • Thanks to the Molly Lind Foundation.
  • Huge thank you to Scholes CA for their support with International Women’s Day.
  • We want to say thank you to the YPI group at Stromness for their incredible work and success.
  • Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last few months with donations.
  • Thank you to Northlink for their continued support.
  • We would like to thank Katherine Diaper and Ingrid Budge hugely for their amazing workshops in collaboration with funding from the pier arts centre.
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16 Days of Action – Own My Life

During 16 Days of Action we will be sharing a collection of blog posts highlighting different topics Women & Children in our service are currently facing.

In this blog post, we would like to give you a full introduction to our Own My Life Course.

What is Own My Life (OML)

Own my life is an innovative and educational course for women who have experienced domestic abuse.  The course enables women to regain ownership of their life. 

Women’s Aid Orkney were the 1st organisation in Scotland to run the OML course and have been running the OML course since October 2020 and to date, have run 8 courses supporting 62 women. 95% of participants stated that they would recommend the OML course to someone else.

“I was very unsure whether to take part in the course initially but am so pleased I did, of course it was very nerve wracking to begin with but with time I felt at ease and even looked forward to Wednesday nights.  I was shocked at the content of the course as it literally replicated my experience, it could be very upsetting and triggering but also very educational, it confirmed to me that I had been abused and it wasn’t my fault.”

Participant in Women’s Aid Orkney’s ‘Own My Life’ course.

The course was initially run online via zoom and this year 2022 we started our 1st face to face session which is going well.  Moving forward we will be offering both zoom and face to face courses.
The course is designed to be friendly and informative where women can contribute as much or as little as they like.  There is no pressure to talk, in the zoom sessions, women are invited to use the chat facility if they don’t want to speak however we do ask everyone has there camera on.

We make a group confidentiality agreement during our 1st session and ask that what happens in the group stays in the group.

Everyone participating in the course whether online or in person receive an OML journal and welcome pack.  The journals are used for every session and is the ladies to keep and refer to forever.

The course has no homework or written work everything is covered in each session by the facilitators.

As Orkney is a small community and we understand that people may not want to join the course due to people possibly knowing them we are working in partnership with Ross-shire Women’s Aid enabling women from Orkney to participant in their online OML course and WAO offer spaces to women in Ross -shire who face the same difficulties of a small community.

“Own My Life has given me an opportunity to have something that is my own again, a safe place and source of stable comfort each week. What began as a journey of my own and despite the title signalling it is about one’s self the course is much more than that, it has become a group of women that each week I look forward to spending time with, chatting and where there is no judgement or pressure. Own My life has begun my new, better life.”

Participant in Women’s Aid Orkney’s ‘Own My Life’ course

Many women are hurt badly in abusive relationships and the trauma of this remains with them and impacts both the women and children and can have a long lasting dramatical effect.

The OML course helps women to make sense of what has happened to them and gives them the skills to move forward.

The course helps women to identify their skills and how they can move forward with their lives.

Women who attended were dealing with:

  • Difficult relationships
  • Nightmare ex’s
  • Horrible break up
  • Controlling partner, Ex

We do ask that women are no longer living with their partner to participate in the online course.

“This course will give you the tools to take back the power to be a strong independent woman who is amazing just as you are right now. The own my life course has begun my new better life”

Participant in Women’s Aid Orkney’s ‘Own My Life’ course

OML 14 – 25

Since facilitating the Own My Life course and with the input from young women in our community we identified a need for the course to be run with young women we therefore developed the OML 14-25 program that is being run from February 2023.  The course has been specifically developed to help young women learn about abuse, toxic relationships and red flags in order to help them make healthy choices in relationships and to help them heal and regain ownership of their lives.

If you would like to find out more about the Own My Life course, you can email info@womensaidorkney.org.uk

16 Days of Action – Tech Abuse

As part of this years 16 days of Action, we are putting together a selection of blog posts to highlight support and issues. This post will look at online safety and ways to keep yourself safe.

What is tech abuse?

Anyone can experience tech abuse, by someone they know or by a complete stranger. Perpetrators may use technology to control, harass, monitor or intimidate you. They may even carry out physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse using technology. For example, they may hack your phone, cyberstalk you, or use social media, cameras, or other kinds of technology to try to harm or control you or your children.

The number of women and children experience tech abuse is rising every year. Many women experiencing tech abuse feel they have no choice but to stop using online spaces or their devices, which further heightens their isolation.

As the hackers and perpetrators get more advanced, so does tech they can use. It’s no longer just phones and tablets that can be used to communicate, watch or get information but now with smart toys, pet tech and the misuse of tracking devices. The, knowledge of how to keep yourself safe from tech is needed.

What can we do to protect ourselves online?

As well as creating strong passwords and being aware of what information we give out, there are some helpful tools to help keep you safe and think about some areas of tech you may not have considered.

Refuge have recently launched a website dedicated to tech safety and ways to keep yourself safer online. They cover cyberstalking, hacked emails and what to do if an ex partner has access to your accounts and devices.

You can try their digital break-up tool, this tool helps you review commonly used apps and guides you in making each platform more secure.


There is also an interactive home, the home tech tool highlights commonly misused internet connected devices in the home and guides you on how to keep them secure.


There are a number of other websites with information regarding online safety. As well as Refuge tech safety website, Safety Net Project is a dedicated website to keeping women who have experienced domestic abuse safe online. They have a toolkit for survivors focused on tech safety and privacy. This toolkit is very precise, it includes information on stalkware, smart cars and other smart tech you may not have considered such as smart pet devices.

Women shouldn’t feel they have to reduce their use of tech or have to delete their social media accounts and get rid of their smartphone. This is not only
unrealistic, it punishes the victim and cuts them off from their social and support networks, leaving them isolated. Instead, let’s use tech safely, smartly and take some simple steps to address potential vulnerabilities.

Dating Apps & Online dating

Meeting people online has become the norm, currently around 15 million UK singles are registered on dating sites and in fact – it’s how a quarter of couples met their other half. With so many different online dating options, millions of people to search through and so many horror stories, it’s really important that you know how to keep yourself safe on dating apps.

Different dating platforms attract different types of people due to their reputation. Some sites are known for being hook-up & affair sites, so if you’re looking for a serious relationship, these would be best avoided. Research before signing up and find out what the dating website is all about. Look to see if there are there lots of bad stories due to the nature of the site, and more importantly, what does the dating site do to keep you safe? The vast majority of people using dating apps, are there with good, honest intentions but it is worth being cautious about those who may have another purpose in mind.

No matter the dating app or its features, it’s important to keep in mind that any dating site has the potential for fake accounts. There are no apps that are truly able to verify the identity of its members, nor do they perform background checks. But you can do things on your own to make yourself safer.

One of the golden rules of online dating is don’t exchange personal information. This starts with the username you pick, avoid something that might give away information about you, such as your surname, age/year of birth. Second, until you’ve met and feel you can trust the person you’ve met online, don’t share your address, where you work /study, your phone number or email address. Check that the dating app you are using doesn’t share your location, you should avoid having information on your profile that would make it easy for a stranger to steal your identity or track you down in real life.

It’s safer to keep using the messaging function within the dating app or site until you feel you have met and can trust them. The dating messaging service is there for daters safety. Be wary of someone who wants to move the chat off the dating app or service shortly after meeting. If they ask for your number, or ask you to email them or switch to WhatsApp (a common trick among scammers is to say their subscription is running out), just politely decline and say it’s nothing personal, it’s just your policy not to.

Early declarations of love to someone you have never met is a common scammer technique.  Dating services are a brilliant way of getting started, but be wary of those who profess love quickly via messages, or who message you constantly and at odd hours but always have an excuse as to why they can’t meet in person or over video message.

Just like when you meet someone face-to-face, your instincts will tell you if something’s not right. Maybe they won’t tell you much about themselves but ask you a ton of questions. If it feels weird, chances are it’s not what it seems. Trust your instincts and be cautious until you’ve had long enough to really get to know someone. And if you’re really not sure, run it by a friend that you trust to get some advice.

Don’t be afraid to report certain behaviour to the dating app you are using. If someone asks you for money, they’re almost certainly a scammer. They might tell you they need to buy a plane ticket, that they’re widowed, that their relative is sick or that they will give you something in return. Whatever the story, never give out your bank details or give someone money and if they ask, stop replying and report them immediately to protect both you and others from being scammed. You should also report someone if you feel sure you’re talking to someone who isn’t who they say they are, or if they’re threatening, offensive or insulting towards you.

Talking to someone should go at your pace and you should feel comfortable at all times.

How to get help…

There are many National support groups available to give you advice and guidance.

Women can call the National Domestic Abuse Freephone helpline on 0808 2000 247

Scottish Women’s Aid and LGBT domestic abuse in Scotland are excellent support group websites.

You can contact us on 01856 877900 or email us for advice at info@womensaidorkney.org.uk

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. If you can’t talk, call 999 followed by 55 to indicate you need help, but can’t talk.

16 Days of Action – Keeping Children Safe Online

As part of this year 16 Days of Action, we are putting together a selection of blog posts, that highlight different topics. This posts will focus on grooming and keeping children and young people safe online.

What is grooming?

Online grooming is when someone uses the internet to trick, force or pressure a young person into doing something sexual – like sending a naked video or image of themselves.

Someone who’s grooming children online will often build their trust before talking about doing anything sexual or suggest meeting up with them in person. It’s sometimes not easy to know if someone’s trying to groom you, this is why it’s really important to understand the dangers of talking to someone you don’t know online.

Remember that there isn’t one ‘type’ of groomer. Many different kinds of people use the internet to manipulate young people into sharing sexual images of themselves. Often it’s an adult pretending to be a young person – but not always.

A groomer can use the same sites, games and apps as young people, spending time learning about a young person’s interests and use this to build a relationship with them.

Whether online or in person, groomers can use tactics like:

  • Buying gifts.
  • Giving advice or showing understanding.
  • Giving attention.

Groomers might also try and isolate children from their friends and family, making them feel dependent on them and giving them power and control over them. They might use blackmail to make a child feel guilt and shame or introduce the idea of ‘secrets’ to control, frighten and intimidate.

It’s important to remember that children and young people may not understand they’ve been groomed. They may have complicated feelings, like loyalty, admiration, love, as well as fear, distress and confusion.

A survey from Hopes and Streams from the London Grid for Learning revealed that 2 in 5 young people had never told anyone about the worst thing that had happened to them online. With this in mind, it is very hard to know the statistics on how common grooming is online.

What is Sexting?

Sexting is when you share an image or video with someone that is of a sexual nature. After a video or image is shared, you can loose control of what happens to it, there is a possibility it could be posted to websites, shared with other people or used as blackmail.

It can be terrifying finding out a nude image or video of you has been shared online. But Childline can help, they have the Report Remove Tool. It guides you to make a report to the Internet Watch Foundation without anyone getting involved. They will speak to the website to try and get it removed on your behalf.

Grooming can happen offline aswell

Grooming can happen with people you already know in person, for example through your family or at a club you go to.

If someone is an abuser, they might be nice to you, give you their attention and buy you gifts to try and make you like them. Once you start to trust them more, they might try to start to turn your relationship into something more sexual. They might threaten you with violence so that you don’t tell anyone.

People like this can be very convincing and will try really hard to get you to do what they want. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust. If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable because they’re saying or doing sexual things to you, you should tell someone what is happening.

Grooming can have both short and long-term effects. The impact of grooming can last a lifetime, no matter whether it happened in person, online or both.

A child or young person might have difficulty sleeping, be anxious or struggle to concentrate or cope with school work. They may become withdrawn, uncommunicative and angry or upset.

Getting Help…

There are many National support groups available to give you help and advice.

CEOP make reporting online grooming easy. Whether you’re a parent, carer, worried adult or young person, you can make a CEOP report online.

PACE works with parents and carers of children who are, or at risk of, sexual exploitation. You can call them for confidential help and advice on 0113 240 5226 or fill in their online form.

Whether the grooming is happening now or happened in the past, Childline can be contacted 24/7. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and confidential. Children can also contact Childline online. Childline has information and advice for children and young people about online grooming and keeping safe online.

Women can call the National Domestic Abuse Freephone helpline on 0808
2000 247

Women’s Aid
 and LGBT domestic abuse in Scotland are excellent support
group websites.

You can contact us on 01856 877900 or email us for advice
at info@womensaidorkney.org.uk

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. If
you can’t talk, call 999 followed by 55 to indicate you need help, but can’t

16 Days of Action – Financial Abuse

Throughout 16 Days of Action we will be sharing a selection of blog posts on different topics, this post will focus on financial abuse and the cost of living crisis.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a means of controlling someone through taking away control of finances and resources. Financial abuse is also known interchangeably as economic abuse and both are a form of coercive control. In the absence of resources, it can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive relationship and see a life beyond abuse. Financial abuse can be the control of liquid assets (e.g. your wages) or equity (e.g. your house). The manipulation of money and other economic resources is one of the most prominent forms of coercive control, depriving women of the material means needed for independence, resistance and escape.

While financial abuse is most frequently committed by a partner – a family member or other party known to the woman can use coercive control in this way.

Sometimes it can take a long time to realise you are being financially abused or for you to label what is happening as ‘abuse’. But if you feel uncomfortable about the way that someone you know is behaving with your money, they may be financially abusing you. This list can help you identify if that is what’s happening:

  • Forces you to take out money or get credit in your name.
  • Makes you hand over control of your accounts – this could include changing your login details.
  • Cashes in your pension or other cheques without your permission.
  • Adds their name to your account.
  • Pressures you to change your will in a way you’re not comfortable with.
  • Has offered to buy shopping or pay bills with your money, but takes it, and doesn’t use the money how you agreed.
  • Asks you prove what you’ve spent your money on.
  • Stops you accessing your bank, loan or credit card accounts.
  • Controls what you can and can’t spend your money on.
  • Sets up Direct Debits from your account to pay bills which aren’t yours or pay for goods and services which you haven’t bought.
  • Pressures you to arrange for your benefits to be paid into a bank account you don’t have access to.

Research from Women’s Aid shows that 20% of UK women experienced financial abuse in either a current or past relationship. Women’s Aid also reported in 2019 that just under half of survivors of abuse who have children said they did not have enough money to pay for essentials for the children.

If you think your perpetrator is monitoring your devices, try and access help on a computer or phone they don’t have access to at work, in a library or by borrowing a friend’s. We also have a blog post on tech abuse that gives detailed help and support on how to keep yourself and devises safe.

Many victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse are likely to also be suffering financial abuse.

The cost of living crisis and the effects it can have on an abusive relationship.

The cost of living crisis is estimated to be affecting 46 million British people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). While this is worrying for the average household, in homes where there is an abuser, the rising costs have their own terrifying consequences. Many women who face domestic abuse already experience economic control by their perpetrator. This financial disadvantage means these women face further barriers when trying to leave, recover and rebuild their lives after abuse. The soaring cost of living heightens this crisis, making it even harder for women to escape abuse.

According to new research from Women’s Aid the cost of living crisis is already stopping victims from leaving an abuser: 73% of women living with or who have financial links with the perpetrator said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving, or made it harder for them to do so. “While living with the trauma of abuse” Women’s Aid reports “74 per cent are worried about paying bills and 61 per cent being able to afford food” Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “The current cost of living crisis has been devastating for survivors of domestic abuse. The soaring energy and food costs, coupled with stagnant wages, will leave many women more vulnerable.”

Women’s Aid and Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) are calling on the Government for an Emergency Domestic Abuse Fund to support survivors with energy bills and essential items, reduced bills for refuges, and better access to legal aid for victims and survivors.


How to get help…

Everyone has the right to financial independence. If your partner or someone else you know is running up debts in your name, it’s financial abuse. There’s no need to struggle alone.

There are many National support groups available to give you advice and guidance.

Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), the UK’s only charity specifically dedicated to supporting people experiencing economic and financial abuse, contact the free Financial Support Line, call 0808 1968845

Women can call the National Domestic Abuse Freephone helpline on 0808 2000 247

Scottish Women’s Aid and LGBT domestic abuse in Scotland are excellent support group websites.

StepChange is a debt charity, where you can receive free debt advice.

Women’s Aid Orkney are here to help and our support workers can help support any woman experiencing financial abuse.

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. If you can’t talk, call 999 followed by 55 to indicate you need help, but can’t talk.

For anyone who has concerns regarding the cost of living crisis, Martin Lewis has some great advice and support on his website, including a cost of living help guide. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/