Dreamer | Yawn meets Kat Mann

Dreamer | Yawn meets Kat Mann

By Alice Whiteley

Dreamer | Yawn meets Kat Mann

Hello Kat and welcome to Yawn, we are delighted to have you as a “Dreamer”.  We love chatting to women we admire and as a a Senior Support Worker at Women’s Aid you will be an inspiration to many.  Yawn fundraises annually for this fantastic charity through Giving Friday and we are delighted to get the chance to meet you properly.

So – here goes..

What did you think you wanted to be when you were younger?

So many different things! Aside from wanting to be a pop star (specifically the 6th Spice Girl) I knew I wanted to help others in some sort of capacity.

 How did you get the job at Women’s Aid?

I began working for Women’s Aid in 2016 as a support worker. I actually qualified as a social worker prior to this and spent one of my placements with a local domestic abuse service. This gave me insight into the prevalence of domestic abuse and this is something I felt passionate about; an issue which is still so unspoken about but is happening to so many women and children.

What is it that you do for women in crisis?

Women’s Aid run a variety of support services for women experiencing domestic abuse and can also provide support to friends, family, professionals; anyone who has concerns about someone they know.

We run an online Live Chat service where women can discuss their situation with a fully trained female support worker. We can offer that initial validation around what someone is experiencing; we’re a lot of women’s ‘first point of call’. Many women are unsure if they are experiencing domestic abuse, and we can talk through those dynamics with them. Alongside that initial emotional support, we can also offer practical options, finding refuge vacancies for example, signposting to legal advice around injunctions or signposting to counselling support.

We really try to be survivor led and will offer support with whatever that survivor is needing at the time. We run an online Survivors Forum; a community of women who have experienced domestic abuse (past or present), an Email service and a Dedicated Service for Professionals.

Why is the work of Women’s Aid so important?

We’re not here to tell anyone what to do. We want to provide options and give that space for someone to discuss their situation in confidence. We want to counteract that voice of the perpetrator who is telling the survivor that no one will believe them, or that they are to blame . We want to really empower women with emotional support but also practical options to help them live lives free from abuse.

Women’s Aid also affects change in policy and legislation, trying to challenge domestic abuse at a wider societal level. Women’s Aid are turning 50 next year, and we’ve launched our Come Together Campaign which calls on everyone to take an active role in ending domestic abuse (read more here).

What do you most enjoy about your role and what do you find most challenging?

It can be frustrating knowing that there is not enough support out there. Many local services are stretched to capacity and there can be long waiting lists for counselling. Of course my job can be incredibly emotionally challenging at times. It’s hard to get your head around how people can treat each other and it can all feel quite bleak at times. It’s true that you develop a bit of a thick skin, but you never stop caring.

I’m lucky that I work with an amazingly supportive team, and Women’s Aid provide additional support for me to enable me to keep doing what I’m doing. Hearing about situations of abuse is challenging, but it is equally the most rewarding part of my job. I feel privileged to be able to provide support to help women disentangle themselves from abusive relationships. To log off at the end of the day knowing that you’ve made a real difference is what makes this job so much more than just a job. 

What can we all do if we meet someone or know someone suffering from domestic abuse?

If you are unsure if someone’s experiencing abuse, you might want to ask them if they’re needing any help. This can often feel awkward and may depend on the relationship you have with that person. They may deny there is a problem; they may not be ready to talk about the abuse or feel scared to open up. You can’t force someone to talk about their situation or leave an abusive relationship if they don’t feel ready.

If someone has confided in you about an abusive relationship they’re going through, the most important thing you can do is to give emotional support and let them know that there’s help available. Let that person know that there’s no excuse for domestic abuse and they’re not to blame. Many perpetrators will blame the woman for the abuse, so these situations often come with a lot of shame and guilt attached to them. They might be afraid or have emotional and practical barriers to leaving.

Try not to panic - you don’t have to have all the answers. You might want to gently encourage someone to reach out to Women's Aid when they are ready - you can signpost that person to our website. Calling the police is never an easy decision to make, but if someone you know is in danger or you’re aware of a violent attack taking place, then this is what you may want to do. We would always avoid approaching the perpetrator - this may only escalate the situation and place the survivor at greater risk. Anyone worried about someone else can find further guidance in our Survivors Handbook.

Which women most inspire you and why?

The women I chat to everyday most inspire me. To be able to reach out for help with all of that relentless and insidious abuse, to take that risk must take so much guts, determination and strength- it’s actually incredible what survivors of domestic abuse will endure, yet still find the courage to reach out for help.

You have a very demanding role that must be emotionally challenging. How do you learn to switch off and what are the tools and techniques that have helped you?

On a day-to-day basis it’s about using what’s available and debriefing with my managers. If I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed in the moment, I’ll use breathing techniques and take regular breaks in between chats. You never know exactly what you’ll be faced with next and whoever you’re speaking with next deserves you to be at your best.

As part of a bigger picture, it’s about looking after yourself; spending time with loved ones, getting enough sleep and eating well. I actually love running; I find that after you get past the 3 mile mark, it becomes almost meditative and I get that runners high. I’ve ran a few marathons to raise money for Women’s Aid; I ran Berlin Marathon in September and I’m currently training for Tokyo Marathon in March next year.

 When and where are you at your most relaxed and happy?

There’s nothing better than after you’ve had a really good nights sleep, getting up and going for a run- I feel so refreshed and ready to take on the day. Either that or watching some trash TV after a long day with a glass of wine and cuddling my cat (I would thoroughly recommend the Real Housewives franchise for something to switch off to!).


What is your bedtime routine?

In all honesty, I’m not great with this - it usually involves me falling asleep in front of the TV before dragging myself to bed! I’m not a big reader, but if I’m struggling to sleep, I’ll often put a podcast on or listen to some music.

Quick fire:

  • Top book on your reading list? Our Patron Mel B has actually written an amazing book (also available on audiobook)- ‘Brutally Honest’ which tells her story of domestic abuse. It’s a hard read, but also helps remove some of the shame and stigma associated with domestic abuse- if it happened to Scary Spice it can happen to anyone right? 
  • Favourite song to relax to? I am currently loving Taylor Swifts new album 1989 (Taylor’s Version)- this entire album is just completely wonderful… I am a Swiftie and proud to be!
  • Favourite podcast? I tend to switch between comedy and anything running related (I could listen people talking about running nonstop), some faves are Run Pod, the Long Run Podcast, Off Menu and Kathy Burke’s Where there’s a Will There’s a Wake. 
  • Pyjamas or nightshirt or nightdress? PJ’s always!
  • What is your favourite Yawn print and why? I love the Hounds of Love print that I’ve got- such a beautiful colour
  • Night cap or night cream? Ooooh… both? Night cap on the weekends for sure.

Thanks so much Kat - we loved meeting you and are so impressed with all that you do at Women's Aid.  We're delighted to be supporting this brilliant charity as part of Giving Friday for the fifth year running.