Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, hosts reception to mark 50 years of Refuge
Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, hosts reception to mark 50 years of Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services.
- Her Royal Highness asks guests to use Refuge’s 50th anniversary ‘As a milestone to galvanise and inspire us all towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear, (and) you carry on your vital work to ensure the next 50 years will see the end of domestic abuse forever’.
- Domestic abuse has changed over last 50 years, says Charity’s Chair, having formally been seen as only black eyes and broken bones, it is now also perpetrated via technology and economically.
- Now, abuse takes many different forms. Refuge says 43% of its service users reported financial abuse in 2021.
- Over the last 5 years, the number of women supported by Refuge who said their perpetrator was refusing to contribute to the household costs increased by 632%, and the number who said their perpetrator was refusing to pay child maintenance rose by 1123%.
- Two women a week in England and Wales are killed by their current or former partner.
Today, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, hosted Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, at Clarence House, for a special event to mark the charity’s 50th year. Guests gathering at Clarence House included Home Secretary Priti Patel, Baroness Helena Kennedy, together with Zara McDermott, and Erica Osakwe.
Earlier in the day, The Duchess had met with women who have recently fled their abusive partners, at an emergency accommodation refuge. This was a chance for Her Royal Highness to hear directly from survivors of domestic abuse about the experiences they had, before being able to flee.
Her Royal Highness also met with survivor Erica Osakwe, who recently campaigned with Refuge to change the law, by extending the time period survivors of domestic abuse had to report common assault. Osakwe was recently recognised by Marie-Claire magazine as a ‘future shaper’ for her work campaigning for women and girls.
In her speech today, Her Royal Highness said:
‘This morning I visited the first refuge in Chiswick. It was abundantly clear that it remains a beacon of hope and healing for its inhabitants. I heard encouraging stories of the immediate, practical differences that survivors have seen from recent changes in the law and from the determination and bravery of everyone who is fighting to protect those living with abuse’.
Her Royal Highness continued:
Today, then, we do not celebrate your fiftieth anniversary. Let us, rather, use it as a milestone to galvanise and inspire us all towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear, (and) you carry on your vital work to ensure the next 50 years will see the end of domestic abuse forever’.
Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Refuge Chair said:
‘Refuge is enormously grateful to Her Royal Highness for hosting us today. Her Highness has a long history of lending her support to organisations who provide frontline services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Today was an occasion that many will savour. Her Royal Highness met not only with Refuge staff, but also our colleagues across the sector, as well as survivors of abuse who so bravely speak out about their experiences so they can help others.
When the first refuge opened in 1971, domestic abuse was thought of as being largely about black eyes and broken bones. Now, it is much wider, and can include abuse via technology as well as economic abuse. These statistics show the sheer scale of economic abuse, with almost half the women Refuge supported in 2021 experiencing this form of abuse.’
Erica Osakwe, said:
‘I’m a woman, who experienced abuse. But I stand here not as a victim, but as a survivor. I also stand here as someone who has changed the law. I am so grateful to the government for listening, and hearing, survivors like me, and making this change. And to the many people here today that made sure that happened. Thank you. I want to send a message of hope to everyone today: when we work together, we can achieve amazing things. Every person in this room, you have a role to play, and I hope you will look at me and be inspired to do whatever it takes to protect women and girls. Women like me.’
Refuge embarks upon its fiftieth year at a time when the need for domestic abuse services is as important as ever, with data from Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline showing the rise in women needing support during the pandemic. Between April 2020 and February 2021 calls and contacts* logged on Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline (NDAH) increased by an average of 61% compared to January – March 2020.
*Calls and contacts logged does not equal demand. One woman may access our services multiple times. We log all interactions on phone and allied Helpline services.
Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org