Refuge calls on the public to Walk4 a world without domestic violence

Walk4 logo white borderRefuge is calling on the general public to join a 10km walk, which will cross London’s four most iconic bridges in poignant recognition of the one in four women who experience domestic violence at some time in their lives.

Walk4 will see hundreds of people march 10km across Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge on Sunday 11 September 2016.

The event debuted last year and raised £85,000 for Refuge – vital funds that enable the charity to run its specialist services, which support 3,800 women and children on any given day.

One year later, Refuge is again urging women, men and children to take a stand against domestic violence by signing up to take part in Walk4 2016 – and encouraging their friends, family and neighbours to do the same.

Erica*, a survivor of domestic abuse, took part in Walk4 last year to raise money for Refuge. She said:

“I totally changed during the year I was with my perpetrator. He used to humiliate me in front of other people and always put me down. I became quieter and more insular. Then he became physically violent – grabbing and restraining me at first, then pinning me down, punching me, choking me.

“I was lucky, I managed to get some support and moved out of London – but it’s only in the last six months that I’ve started to feel like myself again.

“When I saw Refuge tweeting about Walk4 I plucked up the courage to sign up – I wanted to raise money for the organisation that had been there for me. Taking part in Walk4 turned out to be vital to my recovery. It gave me an opportunity to reclaim London; walking with so many other likeminded people made me feel like I could feel safe there again. I felt so empowered.

“1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence and I was proud to march for those women as well as for myself. I’ve already signed up for this year’s event on 11 September – hopefully even more people will attend in 2016 and show their support.”

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Tower Bridge, one of the four iconic bridges walkers enjoyed crossing at last year’s Walk4

Simon, 57, experienced domestic violence as a child. He took part in Walk4 last year to raise money for Refuge. He said:

“My father was abusive. My siblings, our mother and I all suffered his violent behaviour. Every day, we were on edge and fearful. Sunday lunch was often the worst time. We would eat in silence, listening out for the slam of the car door – then my mother would grab his lunch out of the oven for him. Once she was two seconds too late. My father struck her and she fell to the ground. I remember everything on his tray flying across the room.

“At the time, Refuge did not exist. We did get out eventually – but if Refuge’s support had been available, rebuilding our lives would have been so much easier.

“I took part in Walk4 last year because I wanted to raise funds for Refuge to ensure they can continue to support children like me. But I also walked to support a friend who is also a victim – I wanted to show her and others experiencing domestic abuse that they are not alone. Please do join me in supporting Refuge and the wonderful work they do.”

Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley CBE, said:

“This is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of domestic violence – a crime that affects the one in four women who experience physical abuse in their lifetime.

“Despite the fact that domestic violence is the biggest issue affecting women and children in the country today, it remains a taboo subject.  But not on 11 September – hundreds of people will take to the streets to bring the issue out of the shadows whilst raising funds.

“Refuge has experienced cuts in funding to 80% of its services since 2011. Given this difficult climate, the money raised by Walk4 will help keep our life-saving services open. I would urge anybody who believes in our work to walk with us – together we will be Walking4 a world without domestic violence.”

If you would like more information about Walk4 or additional images, please contact the Refuge press office on 0207 395 7771 or email press@refuge.org.uk.

Walk4 will take place on Sunday 11 September, departing from Archbishop’s Park, Lambeth, at 10am – if you would like a press pass to attend the event, please email press@refuge.org.uk, or you can sign up to participate and raise money for Refuge here.

*Names have been changed

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