Interview with Mandy Thomas

Mandy Thomas is an author, poet, artist and photographer, and a justice advocate and media commentator for domestic violence. She is a ‘Survivor Ambassador’ for Women’s Aid, raising awareness and funds for domestic violence, and a main speaker at conferences and in the Media.
In 2014, Mandy was awarded the ‘Women of Power Award’ by Marie Hanson, CEO of STORM. She was also awarded the ‘Grace House Honour Award’ and is now Patron for ‘Breaking the Silence’ run by Raj Holness (www.btsuk.org). Today, she continues to fight for justice and her book, You Can’t Run, is a memoir of real-life horrific events, published by Penguin/Random House, which she hopes will help others in their fight.
Mandy’s book, You Can’t Run, is the moving true story of how Mandy had her mind, body and spirit crushed by an evil, calculated and manipulative man; her partner for 18 years, and how she found the strength to rebuild her life in the aftermath of one of Britain’s most horrifying domestic violence cases. Her ex-partner, Eustace, was eventually jailed for nine years, with another six-year term to serve concurrently for rape, over his abusive behaviour, which included dragging Mandy – by her hair – naked through the house; using knives on her, and torturing her with a blowtorch. Her faith kept her alive. Even when she was being tortured by the blowtorch, her ex would mock her by saying, “Where’s your God now, huh?” and he would also strangle her with her crucifix! He was released after serving five years in prison.
Over 20,000 copies have been sold, since it was published in October 2015, and the book is being used in schools, universities, refuges and even doctors’ surgeries up and down the country.
“This book is about my life from the age of eighteen. Having had a contract for an 80,000-word book, and actually having 500,000 words, there’s a lot left out!” said Mandy. “The main purpose of this book is to highlight the flaws within the system: where cutbacks cause lost lives; where mistakes cause lost lives, and also to show what needs to be done now,” she continues. “There also needs to be an understanding of this ‘disease’ called Domestic Violence. There needs to be an overhaul in the system, one that dictates to the world that we will NOT accept violence. There needs to be a change that represents and respects the deaths of those before us, and gives their lives meaning and worth – a change that would deter this misunderstood human crime.”
Mandy has a fundraising page to help raise funds for Women’s Aid,(www.everyclick.com/helpwomensaid) a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. “We need funds to actually keep refuges open, as some have had to close. They are run on skeleton staff 24/7. They need clothes, toys, food, bedding and toiletries. Then there are the other local sectors that have had funding cut to the point that some of them no longer exist. Splitz in Swindon, for me, was a lifeline. Now it’s gone, there’s no replacement locally.”
She is also a parent ambassador for Free Your Mind (www.freeyourmindcic.com) a charity that supports individuals that suffer with mental illness due to the traumatic experience of childhood domestic violence.
Mandy is also a well-known artist, exhibiting up and down the country. Her works are of a realism style. She is a member of the Swindon Artists Forum and has her own studio. Her lifelike portraits can be found on various art websites, and displays of her work are often showcased at local art groups and exhibitions. Since winning ‘Artist of the Year’ back in 2007, she has travelled far and wide with her works, and her Longleat Lions even made their way to the Royal Crescent of Bath for a very distinguished exhibition.
As well as being an accomplished artist, Mandy also has a keen interest in photography, and has photographed weddings, children and nature. Now she is able to travel globally, and over the last ten years she has captured culture and scenery from around the world. Always looking at life through different eyes, she sees the world full of colour and adventure, and is known for capturing candid one-off shots from rather peculiar angles.
For over 40 years, Mandy has been an avid poet and has built up a rather large collection of varied pieces. Her love of reading and writing has increased over the last few years. “My father died when I was nine years old. What better way to express such difficult emotions than in poetry? Right through high school to my last year, I was winning poetry competitions: first for our local town and then for the county. As
the years passed, I penned emotions down and entered competitions in England and then online globally.”
Mandy is part of the Gateway church and her son Jahmene Douglas the former X Factor contestant is also a Christian. She loves Malmesbury Abbey and often attends their services. She goes to Harnhill Centre of Christian Healing to their evening sessions for healing prayers, and receives counselling at Willows, a Christian-based service. Her dream is to go on a healing holiday, as she still suffers from ailments relating to her injuries internally and externally caused by her ex-partner.
For more information, visit www.mandythomas.com. You can buy her book You Can’t Run on Amazon
Follow her on Twitter @goldylonglocks

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