The sound of drums and defiant voices rang out across Dorchester on Saturday night as women ‘reclaimed the night’ to raise awareness of domestic abuse. 

Organised by Women’s Action Network Dorset (WAND),‘Reclaim the Night’ is an annual event which protests and raises awareness of street harassment, domestic abuse, rape and honour-based violence against women. 

Event organiser Emma Scott said: “As always it was lovely to see a group of women come together and there were some new faces too which was fantastic. The whole flow of the evening had a real sense of togetherness.”

A group of men and women gathered at Dorchester Town Hall on Saturday evening and participated in an djembe west African drumming workshop led by Sharon Stone of Organic Rhythm. 

The group then took to the streets, chanting and drumming through the town while holding a banner demanding to ‘end violence against women’.

Emma said: “There was a point when we were all drumming together and you could feel the unity of everyone there and connecting with that sense of reclaiming the night. It really felt like we were part of something bigger.” 

The march takes place every year to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which also kicks off 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence.

Participants included councillors, members of activism groups, crisis centre workers and abuse survivors - some of who bravely shared their stories. 

After the march, WAND held a charity auction at the hall and raised more than £650 which will be used to buy Christmas presents for women who will be spending the festive season in refuge centres. 

“Women in refuges will have experienced the biggest amount of danger. These are women who were fearing for their lives and at risk of death,” Emma said. 

According to WAND, police recorded 5,259 domestic abuse crimes in 2016, an approximate 10 per cent increase on the previous year. From January to the end of April 2017, the force has recorded 1,630 domestic abuse crimes.

“Domestic abuse is still a hidden crime and affects everybody, of all ages, all back grounds, all wealth bands and we are seeing reported cases increasing. I would encourage everyone, if they know someone who is going through abuse, reach out a hand of friendship,” Emma said. 

If you are experiencing abuse of any kind and need help, call 0800 032 5204.