The Duchess of Cornwall continues her work fighting for domestic abuse victims and survivors, by taking on another patronage: Camilla is now patron of SafeLives.
The announcement comes as the Women of the World (WoW) Festival is held online for 2020; Camilla is their president. She joined a worldwide online festival to discuss her longstanding work on domestic abuse, also announcing her new patronage.
The Duchess has highlighted the work of domestic abuse charities in the for more than a decade, and heard about SafeLives first during a visit to see their work in 2016.
Hearing survivors’ traumatic stories, Camilla wanted to help, and so held a reception at Clarence House that July, inviting representatives from SafeLives and other domestic violence organisations.
The Duchess has not only highlighted domestic abuse organisations, as well as those supporting sexual assault victims, but actively worked to improve the help they give. In 2017, Camilla had the idea to put together wash bags for victims to use after their medical examinations; this invasive procedure, she had repeatedly heard, made women feel unclean so chose miniature toiletries to help them feel a sense of normality – and cleanliness – in the immediate aftermath of such a trauma.
During the virtual discussion, Camilla said: “It’s not a nice subject to talk about and I think that’s been one of its problems. It’s been a taboo subject for so long that people just haven’t talked about it.“
The Duchess has previously written about how domestic abuse is everyone’s problem, hinting that she has known victims personally.
“As I’ve said before, silence is corrosive because it leaves the victims feeling both shame and blame. I wanted to lift the shroud of this silence, and get more women, children and men to talk about their experiences,” Camilla added. “And it is happening in a slow way, but it is such a traumatic experience that I think it becomes sort of locked into a compartment inside them, and it’s very difficult to find the key to unlocking.”
Contributors were brought together from across the world to discuss six themes for the 24-hour festival: education, justice, climate, heath, the economy and violence. It will reflect on the impact the pandemic is having on women and girls.
In February this year, Her Royal Highness hosted a reception for SafeLives at Clarence House to celebrate its 15th anniversary and more recently, she supported the charity’s ‘Reach In’ campaign, highlighting issues raised during lockdown.
Suzanne Jacob, CEO of SafeLives said of the announcement: “I am fiercely proud and hugely honoured to say that Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to become our Patron at SafeLives.
“The way that she speaks to people directly and really listens, unravels some of the harm, the terrible harm that abusive people do to the people they are supposed to love the most. They tell them that they don’t matter, that nobody cares about them, that nobody will believe them, and Her Royal Highness is making it absolutely clear that that is not true. That anybody who lives with an experience of domestic abuse is valuable, is going to be listened to.”
The Duchess said: “SafeLives provides a lifeline to women, men and children who are suffering, or who have suffered, from domestic abuse.
“When I first visited them several years ago, I listened to the harrowing stories from these remarkably brave women and I knew that I wanted to do something to help… I very much hope that, after reading their stories, you will want to help too.
“During these exceptional times, it is even more important that we all look out for each other. If you think someone you know might be at risk, then please follow the advice from SafeLives and ‘reach in’. It really could make all the difference.”
The segment featuring Her Royal Highness will be streamed on the WOW Global 24 channel at 6pm BST.