You are not alone!

At LAWA we support Latin American and other Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women that have experienced gender-based violence, domestic abuse, forced prostitution or trafficking. All our services are confidential, no personal value judgments are expressed, and we offer advice in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. We welcome all BME women regardless of their sexuality, including Trans women.

Identifying violence

Violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of gender inequalities and intersect with other forms of oppressions, such as racism, immigration control, ableism, transphobia or classism. Domestic violence is a form of abuse that may be perpetrated by a partner or family member(s), where women and/or children are abused verbally, physically, psychologically, financially and/or emotionally.

There are also more specific and intersecting forms of abuse prevalent among Black and Minority Ethnic women who experience violence, such as the use of immigration status to exert control, obstruction of English language development, Honour Based Violence, and in the case of Queer, Lesbian and Trans women, the use of sexuality or gender identity to exert control.

Many women experience some form of gender-based violence throughout their lives, don’t be ashamed or afraid to come forward.

Are you experiencing violence?

  • Is your partner excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Do they have sudden changes of mood? Do they treat you affectionately and abuse you later on?
  • Do they forbid you from seeing your friends and family?
  • Do they forbid you to study English or work outside of the house?
  • Do they threaten to report you to immigration control if you leave him?
  • Do they constantly criticize and put you down in public? Do they tell you that you’re useless or that they cannot put up with you?
  • Do they control your money?
  • Do they tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, or what to think?
  • Do they force you to have sex even when you have said no?
  • Do you act in a “more careful” way to prevent your partner from getting angry?
  • Has your partner ever threatened you or intimidated you? Have they used violent language or damaged the furniture, and the walls in anger?
  • Do you feel forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner’s reaction?
  • Does your partner blame you for their behaviour? For example, do they say you were “asking for it” or that you deserved the abuse?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, then you may be experiencing domestic violence. We promise you that it is NOT your fault and that you can seek help so you don’t have to go through this situation alone. At LAWA we offer you the following services:

Refuges

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Established in the United Kingdom since 1987, LAWA’s refuges are safe homes for Latin American, and Black and Minority Ethnic women who are fleeing gender violence, in particular domestic violence.
We run two refuges, Chia house and Mawu house, in confidential locations. They are both only for Black and Minority Ethnic women and children, providing a safe space for recovery and growth with a friendly and professional staff team. Through a holistic and person-centred approach we offer individually tailored emotional and practical support plans according to each woman and child’s intersectional needs. Our refuges are spaces for new beginnings, hope and healing.

Call us or come to our offices if you are seeking for a refuge space.

Advice and support

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Our advice and support centre offers information, advocacy and support to Latin American and BME women, in particular but not limited to survivors of gender based violence. Through one-to-one appointments, drop-in days, telephone advice, in-house surgeries and outreach points we offer advice and support in a wide range of areas. This includes domestic violence and other gendered forms of violence; immigration and family law; welfare benefits advice; housing and emergency accommodation; child support; career and employment advice; skills development and community integration.
To access this service, you can call us or come to one of our weekly drop-in on Tuesdays between 09:30am and 12:00 am.

Counselling

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Domestic violence is a very traumatic experience that can leave us with emotional scars, confused feelings, fears, memories, and damaged self-esteem. Having a space to talk about that experience with a professional counsellor can be healing.
LAWA’s in house counselling service provides psychotherapy support in Portuguese, Spanish and English. We adopt a culturally sensitive, trauma focused approach that supports women to recover their mental and emotional health and general wellbeing. Ultimately, our counselling aims to empower women to recover their self-confidence and take control over their own lives. Counselling sessions are free and individual. They provide a safe, confidential, non-judgmental environment for you to express and reflect on your problems, the suffering that violence has left in your life and those around you. To access this service, please contact us through our advice and support centre.

English lessons

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In partnership with English for Action, LAWA offers English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes to Latin American and BME women, helping them to overcome such barrier to inclusion. Every Wednesday and Thursday we offer English lessons from 5:00pm-7:00pm – beginner, elementary and intermediate levels. All you have to do is come on either of those two days and sign up with the English teacher, who will evaluate the level that best suits your needs.
We also run a crèche service during English classes to enable mothers to attend classes. Both services are completely free of charge.

Crèche

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As part of our advice and support centre we run a crèche space for mothers to be able to access our services. You leave your children during English lessons under the care of a professional. This service has no cost and is available for children from 0 to 12 years of age.

Change Maker Programme

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Our Change Maker Programme is an intersectional and intergenerational feminist space for Latin Americans and BME women to meet, learn and grow together. The project has been designed to address themes such as gender inequalities and intersectionality; violence against women and girls; sisterhood and self-care; ecofeminism; migration, diaspora and racial identities; sexual diversity; spirituality and resilience; and migrant women’s involvement in community struggles.

Based on theoretical frameworks of black intersectional feminism and Latin American Communitarian Feminism and using popular education methodologies (See; Judge; and Act) the program encompasses workshops, alternated with outings, and group attendance to community events and actions. Some workshops are foreseen to be co-delivered by participants to foster peer-to-peer support and empower them to become multipliers. In addition to creating a safe space to share personal experiences, the programme promotes a culture of solidarity, sisterhood, personal and collective empowerment which ultimately lead women to become change makers.

For more information about our programme, contact Jael de la Luz, our Change Maker and Community Engagement Officer, at the following email address jael@lawadv.org.uk.

WAHA Initiative

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Women against Homelessness and Abuse (WAHA) is an initiative for Black and Minority Ethnic women jointly run by the Latin American Women’s Aid and London Black Women’s Project under the OYA consortium of BME refuges.
WAHA aims to address Black and monitory ethnic women’s intersecting pressures of poverty, homelessness and gender violence through promoting changes in housing policy and practice in the UK using a rights-based approach. It is a policy but also a frontline project advising, representing and supporting survivors to make appeals and secure safe and appropriate accommodation, in an environment free from violence and intimidation.

Our ultimate goal is to work with policy makers and practitioners to affect change to ensure the housing needs of BME survivors are met. We envisage a world where no woman will be forced to endure abuse for fear of becoming homeless, where women fleeing violence are able to access their rights to safe accommodation without that process furthering the cycle of abuse.

Children & Young People services

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We offer specialized services for BME children and young people at the refuge. Our Children and family support worker runs weekly activities to encourage their recovery and the reestablishment of the relationship with their mothers after living or witnessing traumatic violent experiences.

We also provide specialized counselling services for children in their own language.

“Staying at the refuge was the first step to a better personal wellbeing”
- Service User
“I am a changed woman now who no longer lives in fear. I feel a lot more confident.”
- Service User