The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception at Clarence House to acknowledge the 15th anniversary of domestic abuse charity, SafeLives. Camilla made an impassioned speech at the event, and spoke of the fact the she knows survivors of domestic abuse, too.
During the reception, the Duchess heard stories from survivors of domestic violence who later have become campaigners of the cause, including Rachel Williams, who Camilla met for the first time in 2016. Williams said she will always be grateful to Camilla for using her position to help highlight their cause.
Speaking about her first meeting with the Duchess, Mrs Williams said: “It was very significant for me to speak to a member of the Royal Family with that platform to help us. I can remember meeting for the first time so clearly.”
“Everyone judges somebody within the first ten seconds of meeting them and I instantly warmed to the Duchess because you could see that obviously it wasn’t a token gesture for her, she wasn’t there just to tick off a duty that day. You could see very clearly that she wanted to be there, was really interested in what we were saying and was physically moved by it. That meant a lot to her.”
Rachel Williams was a victim of abuse for 18 years, being beaten by her ex-husband, Darren, who abused steroids. She was subjected to a final attack in August 2011, when he burst into her work place, a hairdressing salon in South Wales, and shot her before taking his own life.
Six weeks later, her teenage son Jack, committed suicide; he had been traumatised by the event.
Last year alone, SafeLives supported more than 65,000 adults and 85,000 children. At least two women are killed each week in the UK by current or former partners, and more than two million report domestic abuse each year. It is thought that this is only a fraction of the real number, however.
Additionally, domestic abuse is frighteningly the biggest killer of women aged 16-44.
Talking about her first visit to the charity in her speech, The Duchess of Cornwall said: “I visited SafeLives for the first time in 2016 and, as I have said on numerous occasions, that memorable day fired my interest in domestic abuse.”
“I did know of people who had suffered from it, but I was both shocked, and horrified by just how many thousands of people across the world live with it. I had the privilege of hearing incredibly brave women (some of whom are here today) standing up to tell their stories. Harrowing stories that reduced many of us listeners to tears.”
“But with each story that is told, the taboo around domestic abuse weakens and the silence that surrounds it is broken, so other sufferers can know that there is hope for them and they are not alone.”
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Camilla first visited SafeLives back in 2016, when she was moved to tears by the stories she heard. In 2018, the Duchess took the issue of domestic violence to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, The Duchess of Cornwall spoke of her friends who have been victims of violence and toxic relationships.
Camilla said: "No one knows what goes on behind any front door.
"It affects everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are. That would be my message to people: whoever you are, wherever you are from, there are organisations that can help you. Go and get help. Talk to them, just get up and talk about your experiences. They will help."