12 June 2020

Joint Open Letter to the Editor of The Sun

Dear Victoria Newton,
We are writing as organisations who work to end violence against women and girls and provide services and support to survivors of violence and abuse, including those in BME and migrant communities. The misjudged and irresponsible headline on the front page of The Sun this morning has alarmed and disappointed us.
Responding to a woman disclosing her experiences of domestic abuse and sexual assault by giving a platform to her perpetrator to trivialise the abuse he subjected her to is irresponsible and dangerous.
Allowing the front page to promote the lack of contrition an abuser has is inexcusable and unforgiveable. This is especially the case during this period of lockdown, where demand to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England has increased by 66 percent. Other helplines, forms of online support and specialist services for survivors across the country have seen a steep rise in demand and the rate at which women are being killed by men appears to have doubled.
Every day perpetrators of domestic abuse minimise their pattern of control as ‘just a slap’ and constantly tell survivors that there is no point asking for help as no one will believe them and no one will care. That it is her fault. That she deserves it. Survivors of abuse seeing the front page of The Sun today will see these incorrect and dangerous messages being reinforced.
The Sun has previously undertaken some positive work to raise awareness of the impact of abuse on survivors and even campaigned for funding for specialist refuges. Today’s front page undermines all this and is hypocritical.
In an effort to try and undo some of the damage you have caused, you should retract the story, issue an apology and dedicate future front pages to advertising the services and support available to survivors. Everyone who has experienced violence and abuse should know that there are people who will listen to them, believe them and recognise domestic abuse and sexual assault as the abhorrent, traumatic crimes that they are.
Your actions are a retrograde step on the road to eliminating gender-based violence.
Yours sincerely,
Jane Keeper, Director of Operations, Refuge
Sarah Green, Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition
Liz Thompson, Director of External Relations, SafeLives
Lucy Hadley, Campaigns & Policy Manager, Women’s Aid Federation of England
Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
Guddy Burnet, CEO of Standing Together and Co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)
Jemima Olchawski, CEO, Agenda
Donna Covey, CEO, AVA
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid
Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
Frank Mullane, MBE, CEO, AAFDA
Fiona Dwyer, CEO, Solace Women’s Aid
Natasha Walter, Director, Women for Refugee Women
Priscilla Dudhia, Policy Coordinator (Destitution), Women for Refugee Women
Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Chief Executive, Surviving Economic Abuse
Medina Johnson, CEO, IRISi
James Watson-O’Neill, CEO, SignHealth
Jo Todd, CEO, Respect
Harriet Wistrich, Director, Centre for Women’s Justice