Wanstead woman uses pain of abusive childhood to help others

Natasha Benjamin ran a half marathon yesterday in Hyde Park to raise money for her support group, Fr

Natasha Benjamin ran a half marathon yesterday in Hyde Park to raise money for her support group, Free Your Mind - Credit: Archant

A Wanstead woman has turned the pain of an abusive childhood into a celebrated blog and a community group to help others with mental health or relationship problems.

Natasha Benjamin, 30, of Hermon Hill, suffered domestic violence between the ages of eight and 12 in Birmingham at the hands of her stepfather, who was also abusive to her mother.

After moving to Wanstead in 2005, aged 29, she started a blog called Pain to Poetry to express her feelings about her childhood.

Today, she will also take on a half-marathon walk in Hyde Park to raise funds for her fledgling support group, Free Your Mind (FYM).

Natasha, who has suffered with depression and an anxiety disorder, said: “As I grew up, I thought it hadn’t affected me. I was in denial about how my past had affected me.

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“People started to follow the blog and comment. It grew from there. It was clear there was a need for a service to help people look after their well-being and to look after their relationships.”

Including poetry, family memories and inspirational messages, the blog, at www.paintopoetry.tumblr.com, was backed by mental health charity Mind, which let Natasha write on its website.

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She started a closed online forum to let people discuss their problems and in February set up FYM, a community interest company, which is also being supported by Mind.

Through talking workshops it helps people with mental health problems and experience of domestic abuse or those who just want help with their relationships with friends and family.

Her charity walk will help to fund summer workshops, which will include “expressive therapy” through creative writing and art.

Natasha, who is aiming to raise £500 to donate to FYM and Mind, said: “I expressed myself through my blog and that’s how people started to understand.”

FYM’s summer workshops will be held in Leyton.

• Visit www.freeyourmindcic.com and to back Natasha visit www.gofundme.com/Freeyourmindcic.

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