Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, meets survivors of domestic violence at Refuge

8 September 2016

Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, today visited the national domestic violence charity Refuge, where she met frontline staff and survivors of domestic violence.

Refuge supports 3,800 women and children escaping abuse on any given day. The Duchess met with three women who had accessed Refuge’s specialist services, including its independent sexual advisory service and one of its outreach programmes.

Melanie Clarke, who endured 15 years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her ex-partner, told The Duchess how Refuge had helped her to rebuild her life. Melanie explained: “Thanks to Refuge, I could see my future.”

Two women a week are killed by their partner or former partner in England and Wales. Behind this statistic are the families who have lost their loved ones. The Duchess also heard from Hayden and Melony Slack. Hayden’s pregnant sister Rachael Slack was brutally murdered by her ex-partner in 2010, along with her toddler son.

The visit ended with Refuge’s patron, Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, presenting The Duchess with a gift – a thank you card, handmade by a child from one of Refuge’s services. Sir Patrick Stewart said: “It is very fitting that I should present this card. I too witnessed domestic violence as a child and I know the impact it can have on young lives. I feel very proud to be a patron of Refuge, which does so much to support women like my mother.”

Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley, CBE said:  “It was a huge honour to welcome Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, to Refuge today.  Domestic violence is the biggest social issue facing women and children in this country. One in every four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. At this moment, there are thousands of women and children living in fear for their lives. Fear in the knowledge that a violent attacker has the key to their front door. Fear that they will not be believed and that nobody will help them.

“Despite this, domestic violence remains a taboo issue. By joining us today, The Duchess is helping to end the silence that surrounds domestic violence. Refuge wants to send a public message: domestic violence is an insidious crime which must no longer be tolerated or ignored.”

If you would like further comment, please contact the press office on press@refuge.org.uk or phone 0207 395 7731. Out of hours and weekend number: 07970 894240 

Images: all to be credited copyright ‘Julian Nieman for Refuge’ – for larger versions please email press@refuge.org.uk 

Patron of Refuge Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, who witnessed domestic violence as a child, presents The Duchess of Cornwall with a thank you gift on behalf of Refuge – a framed card made by a child in one of Refuge’s services

Patron of Refuge Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, who witnessed domestic violence as a child, presents The Duchess of Cornwall with a thank you gift on behalf of Refuge – a framed card made by a child in one of Refuge’s services

Melanie VIP visit

The Duchess of Cornwall meets Melanie Clarke, a courageous survivor of domestic violence, who shared her story with her