An actor who survivied domestic abuse has described how working with a female-led theatre company supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority helped her rediscover her love for the stage.

Ashlea Sanderson stars in Workie Ticket Theatre Company’s production of I Walk The Line, a short play about post-separation abuse and coercive control.

Ashlea plays single mother Steph, who sings to block out her abusive ex and remains determined to ‘walk the line’ for her two sons.

Written by fellow survivor JoJo Kirtley and based on real-life events, the play forms part of the WALK THE LINE workshops with the survivors community in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland for the UN’s 16 days of activism to end gender based violence.

Supported by Crowdfund North of Tyne, WALK THE LINE culminates in a performance of the play, directed by Charlotte Ryder, during a Creative Conference at The Exchange in North Shields on November 30.

The Creative Conference will feature live performances, an art exhibition, keynote speakers, an expert panel discussion, and aims to empower women to have their say through the re-telling of their stories, and will offer the opportunity to create an action plan to help survivors break free from the cycle of abuse.

Post-separation abuse survivor Ashlea said: “It’s been a really important process for me as an actor to be able to come back to something that gave me so much pleasure and passion in my life, before I found myself in that situation.

“It’s lovely to be involved in something where I can take my own experiences – thankfully now I’m out of it – and help other women who are in that situation.

“Just reach out, speak out, talk to somebody that you trust.

“This can feel difficult because there’s a lot of shame and self blame around this issue, but talk to somebody who will understand.  That’s your first port of call.

“I meet people every single day who have experienced this.

“Talking about it is how we as a society can start to deal with this issue.  If we can be brave enough to be open and talk about it and to listen, that’s the first step.”

Workie Ticket founder JoJo said: “WALK THE LINE will show why the ‘system is broken’ and how the likes of Family Court, CAFCASS, the Child Maintenance Service can often make it harder for survivors to break-free from the cycle of abuse.

“Whilst the onus is often placed on leaving the abusive relationship, what happens after you do so? What are the next steps for those leaving an abusive relationship and why and how should services be aware that the abuse often does not stop after physical separation?”

The WALK THE LINE Creative Conference will include:

Special guest keynote speaker: Kayliegh Richardson, Associate Professor in Law at Northumbria University and a Family Law solicitor.

CEO of White Ribbon UK, Anthea Sully: White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys in the fight to end violence against women and girls.

A performance of ‘I Walk the Line’, a play written by JoJo Kirtley about single mother Steph, who sings to block out her abusive ex and remains determined to ‘walk the line’ for her two sons. Based on real-life events, ‘I Walk the Line’ will be performed by survivor Ashlea Sanderson and directed by Charlotte Ryder.

A work-in-progress theatre piece about post-separation abuse written in collaboration with playwright and survivor, JoJo Kirtley.

An art exhibition by local artist and survivor, Ellen Erichsen.

And much, much more.

Presented by the inspirational Fisa Humpledink.

*Please note that this conference will discuss strong themes that some people might find triggering such as sexual violence, physical violence, covert abuse/coercive control and emotional abuse.*

All welcome; although we strongly recommend 14+

Funded by Groundworks Comic Relief.