SODA has found a home to help more people

As I listened to our Prime Minister Boris Johnson address the nation that we were to go into lockdown my heart broke for those that were in abusive relationships, writes Sam Billingham

Sam Billingham of SODA raises awareness of domestic abuse and offers a wide range of support
Sam Billingham of SODA raises awareness of domestic abuse and offers a wide range of support

However, rewind 20 years and I must admit that I had never heard of the word domestic abuse let alone experience it. Until two years later.

When I first met him, he was such a very charming character who everyone seemed to love. He was smooth and swarve in a way he had the ability to make me feel special and as though I were the centre of his attention – little did I realise this would prove deadly and dangerous for me.

The honeymoon period of our relationship was like any other – or so I thought. He never wanted me to see my friends or family, said if I loved him I wouldn’t go to see them, I loved him so I didn’t go.

His controlling behaviour had started from day one but when he first hit me it came as a huge shock – for us both. He was so full of remorse, he was so sorry, he said it wouldn’t happen again, I believed him; he lied.

Since leaving my abusive relationship in 2006 I have dedicated my experience in raising awareness for others because I believe with awareness they will recognise the signs of abuse sooner rather than later.

I set up SODA (Survivors of Domestic Abuse) as an online support group to raise awareness and reduce isolation but now thanks to a kind hearted salon owner, SODA has found its forever home.

Sarah Alicia Jane Wood, tutor and owner of FAB in Lye, said, as a relationship forms between customers and FAB team members, FAB builds trust and they hear, and sometimes see, things that don’t sit right with them.

SODA will have a private office, a safe area for anyone who needs to speak out. FAB team members can signpost straight to SODA without it being a postcode lottery, without victims being put on a waiting list or having to fit a criteria.

For me, collaborating with FAB will be a huge asset to the community and to those experiencing domestic abuse.

I can only imagine what hairdressers, nail technicians and beauty therapists see and hear on a daily basis and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to signpost victims to but with SODA taking up residency in the salon this will be done quickly and effectively.

SODA provides emotional support and will be able to signpost to specialist services if needed.

Being able to offer one to one support is the next step for SODA in what support we already offer; online support, support via Whatsapp and text and now we have a safe place to offer one to one support.

For anyone wanting more information about the support we offer, please visit

FAB The Salon can be found at Embassy business park, The Hayes, Lye, Stourbridge DY9 8RY.

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