The Maya Centre: Helping Women Break Cycles of Abuse and Violence
The Maya Centre has been offering support to women in North London for 31 years. They have recently introduced a new project, My Voice, which is going a long way towards making sure the voices of vulnerable women are being heard, both to benefit their personal journey and to support others who may be in similar situations and are still being silenced.
The Maya Centre offers free 1-1 counselling for women on low income in Islington and the surrounding areas. Over the last year they worked with 150 women survivors of gender-based violence and abuse. Approximately 79% of women who visit the Maya Centre have experienced domestic violence, 20% were sexually abused as children, 28% have experienced sexual abuse at another time in their lives and the vast majority (98%) are mothers. All the therapists and staff are female; indeed it is a women-only building, thus providing a truly safe place for these women to regain a sense of their own value.
The women in the My Voice project were brave, honest and remarkably articulate when voicing their stories. Shame, guilt and self-blame were evident, but more than balanced out by strength, courage and a determination to prevent more young women from falling victim to violence, abuse and neglect. The stories of abuse – sexual, emotional and financial -, family estrangement, addiction and homelessness are hard to hear, but are testament to the power of personal narrative in raising awareness, expanding empathy and bringing about change.
These women, with the invaluable support of the therapists at the Maya Centre, have gone from situations in which their experience was being denied, where they were silenced, to a place where they have the strength and courage to speak up and help others. The Maya Centre reports that over 60% of their clients have improved mental health after seeing a therapist, and have succeeded in breaking the harmful cycles that had blighted their lives previously. Therapy can truly be a life-changing and life-saving experience. The Maya Centre relies largely on donations to be able to offer these women long-term counselling. If you want to find out more about the Maya Centre, visit them here.