Updated: May 14, 2020
'I am Arla' was founded because we need more women leaders. This is necessary. Consider the facts that 1 in 2 women experience abuse or trauma in their life time. This in turn translates to half the population of women around the world. Then there are more CEOs named Dave than CEOS who are women..... you start to see a pattern. The spectrum of abuse and trauma takes on different forms - from sexual harassment in the workplace and creating a professional glass ceiling for women, to domestic abuse in relationships that is psychological and/ or physical. Often women experience more than one type in her life time- but all have one thing in common, the far reaching impacts on a woman’s sense of self worth. Take self worth away, you will struggle to be the best version of yourself or even half the version you want to be. I speak as a survivor of domestic abuse, I lived and breathed it and suffered from it, daily. In turn, I almost failed my degree, twice, two times around (yes, that’s possible) and struggled for years with anxiety, crippling paralysing fear and emotions during work that often left me wanting to give up on it all. There is a reason for this story and fundamentally it goes like this; women that experience abuse or trauma are given a few pathways:
I was offered anti depressants for life by my doctor (whom I can’t fault, he has quite literally saved my life on two occasions)
Therapy, but on a wait list for 6 months until I presented that I felt suicidal
Advised to contact WomensAid (https://www.womensaid.org.uk/) for support and 999 if I was in immediate danger
I am not slighting any of the above, in fact, we are lucky to have the system we have that is doing more than most countries to finally put an end to Gender Based Violence (definition here: https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/what-is-gender-based-violence) but when I finally presented to my university and doctor, I had managed to escape from this life threatening dangerous phase, and that’s where the true journey began. The healing process for someone that has experienced abuse never really has an end point. It’s not something you ever forget, it remains with you forever. There is no blueprint to healing from abuse and trauma, each person goes through their own journey, and has different coping mechanisms. Hence the enormity and scale of the abuse epidemic. The moment I finally realised I would no longer allow myself to be abused in relationships, work and any other aspect of my life, was 12 years after the first time I was abused. It’s now, at 30. I founded a company at 26 (a story for another day) and during this time, I did numerous panels and talks for aspiring entrepreneurs (mainly women) and found one thing in common. Every time I spoke, I was overwhelmed by the audience's enthusiastic feedback about my confidence and success- ‘how did you do this? I can’t even ask for a pay-rise’ ‘I wish I had the confidence like you to start my business’ ‘You’re so perfect’... Everything was so far from the truth. I started sharing my story and the struggles I had had over the years, and every single woman responded, ‘I have been through something similar or the same’. Here is where I am Arla was born. Over the years I have mentored hundreds of young women and inspired them to achieve what they believe to be is the "unachievable". Whether they are still at university, budding entrepreneurs, looking to make a change, or at the start of their corporate career- I realised that we need a community and platform to just nurture talent and give these women the confidence they have inside, to believe in themselves. Give women the self-worth that was taken away from them. I am Arla is the platform and community to support and uplift women to achieve their goals, create ease and find unity. We do this through supporting you in business, career, education and life skills. We specialise in supporting women who have experienced trauma or abuse to obtain the skills and confidence they need to overcome obstacles and succeed at life. We want to work with universities to support their counselling and career services, partner with corporates to support women through their career and up that ladder, support charities like women’s aid working every day to fight this epidemic and finally partner with services that support the mental health, wellbeing and psychology of every woman that comes through I am Arla, to create our leaders of tomorrow.
I am Arla, We are Arla.