International Women’s Day: Which women inspire you?

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With it being International Women’s Day, it goes without saying that it is an evident time to highlight the women who inspire us. Ellie Nodder tells us about a charitable and strong female who fills her with inspiration.

What makes a woman inspirational? Bravery; insurmountable kindness; an innate desire to help others. Laura Riley, CEO and founder of Sheffield charity Mums In Need embodies all of these, and many more besides.

Mums In Need is a charity dedicated to helping mums who have left emotionally abusive relationships, providing one-to-one support and access to counselling amongst other services. Laura fights every day for the continual growth of the charity, seeking opportunities to help more woman who have suffered like her and to break the silence around emotional abuse.

This form of abuse is a massive grey area within both the legal world and society, because without physical evidence, it cannot be charged, and it is often not believed or understood. But Laura understands the manipulation, the financial control, the repetitive bullying that is emotional abuse; she understands it and she champions for the women who have suffered from it every day.

Often when we envision what an abusive relationship looks like, we see all the types of emotional abuse that go along with the physical, but we concentrate on what can be proven, and what can be visibly seen. But there are many more ways to hurt someone than only with your fists.

For instance, this can be a partner using offhand insults to undermine you in front of your friends and family, humiliating you until those same people no longer feel comfortable in your home, and then blames you for being too sensitive. This is emotional abuse.

Or perhaps a partner demands to know where you are at all times, insisting on proof to back up your claims, forcing you to ask permission before leaving the house, and disguising all this as genuine care and concern. This is emotional abuse.

Or even a partner controlling your financial situation, monitoring and questioning your spending, demanding to be asked permission before you are allowed to do anything with the money that you have earnt. This is emotional abuse.

When a partner makes you feel bad for their behaviour, manipulating the situation until you believe that you’re at fault, telling you that you are being too sensitive about the unkind things they say and need a better sense of humour. They may even say it’s your fault they don’t trust you to go out without knowing where you are because you’re untrustworthy, or that you should not have wound them up if you didn’t want them to get so angry. This is emotional abuse.

This ignorance surrounding emotional abuse presents challenges every single day that Laura has to fight against. But she does this, wilfully and passionately, because she seeks to stop the isolation she once felt after going through this herself.

She inspires me, a volunteer at her small charity, many others besides me on a day to day basis, and I hope that after reading this, she inspires you too. And finally Laura is being recognised for she was shortlisted for the ‘Inspiration of the Year’ category for Stylist Magazine’s first Remarkable Women Awards. Although she didn’t win, the acknowledgment of her amazing work is something that will help her charity, Mums in Need, to grow bigger and better and reach even more women.

To find out more about Laura and Mums In Need, visit their website at

To see the winners and nominees of the Stylist Magazine’s Remarkable Women Awards, which was held on 5th March, head to

Words by Ellie Nodder

Edited by Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd

Hope and Vicky are your lifestyle editors.

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