Naomi Tamar won the Opening Doors Award for Inspirational Young Person.
Naomi Tamar was a teenage victim of domestic abuse but fled the relationship to become a campaigner against abuse and a true role model.
Naomi is a young 20-something woman who applied and led a Think Big project in the past year. A victim of domestic violence at just 17, she suffered at the hands of her ex-partner for 2 years.
At her lowest point, Naomi jumped out of a window to flee violence and a middle-aged woman who saw what happened grabbed her and whisked her inside her home. She told Naomi:
You’ve got to leave. I’ve been going through it for 20 years. Leave now, it doesn’t get any easier, it gets worse.
When Naomi got pregnant she knew she had to do something and managed to find the strength to leave her partner and moved back home.
It was a long, difficult process for Naomi to regain her confidence and self-esteem. Naomi was helped by the Think Big project, a youth programme, supported by O2 Telefónica that works to provide young people with opportunities to set up projects that make a difference to their own lives and their communities.
Naomi approached Think Big because she believed friends were at risk of domestic abuse. Her aim was to tell her story, highlight the danger signs and provide advice where to go for help. Think Big and a £300 grant enabled Naomi to print 500 copies of her booklet and distribute it around her community in GP’s, schools, youth clubs and community groups.
In her booklet, Naomi talks of the trauma that she endured. She says now:
We were a couple for 2 years and the violence started around 6 months into the relationship. When I got pregnant I had enough and by the time I had my son, I wasn’t with him.
A pivotal point arrived during her pregnancy when Naomi picked up an autobiography by a woman, herself a victim of domestic violence. Naomi says:
One passage jumped out that described exactly how I felt for the first time.
Inspired by the heartfelt words, Naomi texted the passage to her partner but he never responded:
He didn’t know that it wasn’t me talking but it was exactly what I felt.
Confident and direct, it’s easy to forget what Naomi has been through. Getting her idea approved by Think Big was a huge milestone in her recovery, knowing that there were people who believed in her idea and were willing to support her. Naomi says:
After leaving, I got my courage back and started going out with friends. While I was with him, I lost weight, but within weeks of leaving, I was looking and feeling better and eating properly.
With hindsight, Naomi believes that she was in denial:
My parents didn’t know at the beginning because I wasn’t going home but after they started to notice, my dad got upset with me because he didn’t know how to handle it. Recently we had a conversation – our first one about it. I think he felt helpless and frustrated because I didn’t admit it.
Now a mum of 2, (she’s since given birth from a new relationship) Naomi puts her determination down to her young children who inspire her campaigning.
Her message for other women suffering from physical abuse:
It gets worse. These guys aren’t like this at the beginning and you tend to think back to nicer memories. It goes in circles and they manipulate your mind.
It’s not ever going to get better within the relationship but life will get better if you take that step and get help.
Writing her booklet allowed Naomi accept what happened but she is modest about its impact:
To me, it was only a booklet but when I started showing people, they said in disbelief, ‘Did you do that?’
One day, Naomi’s 5-year-old son picked it up, and said proudly, “My mum wrote this!”. Naomi laughs:
I’d never even showed him!
She readily agrees that the project has snowballed beyond her expectations.
Think Big is now supporting Naomi even further with a £2,500 grant, and Naomi is writing a script to produce a 5 minute film about domestic violence told from the perspective of someone going through it.
Naomi is currently studying and volunteering in a refuge. She plans to showcase her film at a launch event for the local community and then show it around community and youth groups to raise awareness of the issue. Naomi says:
It’s very important because I never knew there was any help available or anyone else was going through it and I was embarrassed. Even when I did confide in people, their stunned reaction was, “How could you let that happen?” But there’s more to it.
The majority of women don’t know how to get out of it or who to turn to but you can get help.
Campaigning has helped develop Naomi’s public speaking skills, blogging and confidence and she’s now perceived as an exceptional young woman and a true role model.
You can follow Naomi’s story and support her campaign on twitter: @fightagaisnt_dv.
After receiving her award Naomi said:
This is a reality check on how much work I’ve done towards raising awareness of domestic abuse. I’ve put so much into it, I haven’t had time to sit back and reflect that I’ve achieved so much, but now I can look at this. I’m very happy and when they announced the winners my heart was beating so fast.
When Vince Cable handed over my award, I felt a bit numb and happy. I’ll put my award somewhere safe at home where my children can’t touch it! People have told me before that they’re proud of me, but receiving an award has made it official.