I'm Madelaine. The Director of The Rita Project. This venture is the exciting culmination of many years of working in several industries paired with somewhat ‘interesting’ life experiences that have brought me to this point.
Throughout my childhood, aside from my plans to be a RAF pilot, I was determined to work in theatre and/or TV. My Dad was a sound recordist and I was often on set with him lapping up the experience and dreaming of my own career.
Post GCSE's I spent a couple of summers with The National Youth Theatre as a Stage Manager and studying a Performing Arts Diploma before dipping my toe in freelance theatre work.
Somewhere amongst all this flouncing around, I had a met a guy. To cut a long story short after 10 years I had three kids, several house moves and a restraining order against him. Safe to say my career hopes had faded somewhat and I changed my plans.
Between 2000 to 2010, I glided into different opportunities as they arose. We moved to South Africa in 2004 where I worked as a restaurant manager, from there it was into events, marketing, back into events, social media management and then taking a break whilst I needed to sort the serious break up of a relationship, restraining orders, child protection conferences, court hearings and everything else in between.
It was in 2012, that I finally felt like the dust had settled. I soon realised I had a new set of skills and an unrelenting urge to change the perception of Domestic Abuse.
That winter, Sussex Police invited me to speak at the ‘Operation Cranberry’ press conference. Highlighting their efforts to tackle Domestic Abuse over the Christmas period, it was my first experience of ‘sharing my story’. The footage was broadcast during the 6 o’clock news and I was inundated with friends and strangers thanking me for speaking out & commending my bravery.
From there, I was invited to host awareness-raising events for the local domestic abuse charity RISE, subsequently, I volunteered for them bringing my professional knowledge to the Fundraising and Comms Team which eventually led to me being offered a paid role within the organisation.
Since that slightly petrifying press conference in 2012, I have continued to speak openly about Domestic Abuse. From addressing guests at the East Sussex Women of the Year Lunch to Full Council meetings, corporate events through to the Mothers Union.
I’ve been very lucky to be offered a range of opportunities. By the end of 2016, I had played a part in launching a low-cost trauma therapy service; ensuring Domestic Abuse remained on our local Community Safety agenda; laid the groundwork for a new Drop-In service and was given an amazing opportunity to develop a community engagement programme.
Over the years one element has remained, my passion for starting conversations about Domestic Abuse. Giving people the opportunity to understand the complex intricacies of what it really means to experience abuse.