There’s a lot we still don’t know about what happened to Gaia but what we do know is that we’re not alone. This isn’t just about her and she knew that. When Gaia went missing in November 2017 and her story first came to light, other people started sharing theirs.
Those stories were beautiful, heartbreaking – and powerful.
Together, we think they are powerful enough to make a difference.
In the UK, at least 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives and 1 in 5 women and girls are subject to sexual violence. Our mental health system is in crisis and accessing the right support can be incredibly difficult. This is devastating families and destroying lives across the country.
We want justice for Gaia – and we want justice for everyone. We need to support each other and learn from others to figure out what justice means.
- If you’ve been impacted by sexual violence or mental health issues
- If you’ve struggled to access support from the police, social services or the NHS
- If you work support others to face these challenges as a volunteer, carer, advocate, academic, or
- If Justice for Gaia speaks to you and you want to tell us why
… then we want to hear from you.
To share your thoughts with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state clearly if you are happy for us to share what you’ve said and whether you wish to remain anonymous. Either way, different voices will help us identify where change needs to come and how we can make help make the world a better place. And that’s what Gaia was all about.
If you what you want to share relates to traumatic events in your own life, remember that while it can be empowering to speak out it can also be re-traumatising. So, make sure you’re sharing what’s right for you, at the right time for you and that you have the right support.
Justice for Gaia is a family campaign. Though we’ll endeavor to respond to with sensitivity and as quickly as we can, we are unfortunately not able to offer direct emotional or practical support that you may need. If you want to talk about your own experiences for the first time or you need emotional support, begin by talking to someone you feel safe with or consider calling one of the organisations listed below:
- The National Domestic Violence Helpline
- Rape Crisis
- Compassionate Friends (for parents who’ve lost children)
- The Samaritans
Here are a few of the stories and words of encouragement people have shared with us…
* Some names have been changed to protect the writer’s anonymity.
Donna Friday, who lives in Dorset, says: “Thank you for fighting for what needs to spoken about and finding the strength to do so. We appreciate your voices getting out there and being brave enough to fight the system to get what’s right for all our loved ones.”
Amy, aged 23, says: “Something needs to change!!! I’ve come a long way in 6 years and have learned to cope with what happened to me but it’s something I still live with every day and I just pray that someday soon something will change and victims of abuse won’t be treated like criminals or be terrified to speak in case they are branded liars. What you are doing for Gaia is inspirational. I wish you so much luck in your search for justice.”
Elaine in London says: “Love and solidarity to Gaia’s family. We have too many tragedies because of the toxic mixture of austerity cuts and pushing everyone to short term mental health services and sexism. Here is hoping that some justice follows and brings some peace.”
Harriet Wistrich, human rights lawyer, says: “Gaia’s death illustrates the severe mental health impact, not only of sexual violence but also of investigative failures by the police. Representing victims in the Worboys case informs me that where victims are aware they may have been one of many targeted by their perpetrator, a sense of responsibility for preventing further harm can weigh heavily. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of the police, not victims, to protect women from dangerous sex offenders.”
Deborah Coles, Executive Director of INQUEST says: “There are serious questions about the actions of Dorset police and their duty of care that this investigation must address. Gaia was a vulnerable young woman, due to the trauma and mental and physical ill health she was experiencing as a victim of sexual assault. How her life could end this way deserves the utmost scrutiny. This family and the public need answers in the hope of preventing another young life lost.”
Hayley Parker, therapist, says: “Too many fall through the net… frustrating for me as a therapist supporting clients who desperately need extra support.”
J, mother, says: “I’m one of the lucky ones who is receiving help for my son – only took 2 1/2 years and us reaching beyond crisis to get it! It’s a service at absolute breaking point. So many young people are being failed due to lack of funding.”