WOMEN and their supporters on an Oxford estate came together today to plan a coordinated community response to ending violence and abuse.

On today's International Women's Day, the 'Safe Leys' event in the Blackbird Leys Community Centre saw women share their personal experiences before planning ways they can support each other to feel safer.

The campaign could see shops and public places on the estate designated as spaces where victims can go for help as well as training and support sessions for adults and school children.

Guest speaker Hannana Siddiqui, of the long-running London-based women's group the Southall Black Sisters, urged campaigners to help 'give survivors a voice.'

She said it was imperative victims are listened to and taken seriously, adding: "It could be the only time they choose tell someone what they have been experiencing."

The campaign comes as the Government unveiled a new draft domestic abuse bill which could see abusers given electronic tags and face tougher sentences.

It is being backed by councillors for the area including Deborah McIlveen and Linda Smith.

Nicole Shodunke, who works with refugees and minority groups, said that she has encountered domestic violence and coercion, which often comes in many different forms.

The mother-of-four added: "Women are not allowed to have their own bank account, they are told if to shop, where to shop, what to buy or sometimes they are stuck at home with the kids and not allowed to go out.

"These things can be justified by religion or culture, the man is seen as dominant and can do what he likes.

"Anybody could be affected by it.

"We need to empower people to be themselves, we don't want to be forced to run away but live our own lives.

"It is a slow process, and being here and saying we are affected by it should be just the start.

"This should not be a one off that we only talk about only once a year.

"People need to listen to us and this needs to be ongoing."

Another local woman, Sasha East, described been subjected to abuse while at work and when out socialising including 'wandering hands', inappropriate jokes and belittling language.

All of these went unpunished and she said she was made to feel like she 'was the problem' rather than the man.

The mum added that she saw these actions as a 'seabed' for more serious violence.

For more email safeleysiwd@gmail.com.