Lockdown has created a domestic abuse timebomb, the Duchess of Cornwall has warned.
In a special interview with the Daily Mail, Camilla stressed that ‘no one knows what are the results behind anyone’s front door’ and said she feared the true extent of the issue would be ‘pretty horrific’.
Campaigners said from the moment lockdown measures were announced in March that cases of domestic violence were prone to rise as victims found themselves trapped at home with their abusers, usually in stressful situations.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Camilla stressed that ‘no one knows what goes on behind anyone’s front door’ and said she feared the actual extent of the problem will be ‘pretty horrific’. The duchess is pictured with SafeLives pioneers Rachel Williams (left) and Celia Peachey (right) in February
Camilla’s delight at patron role
The Duchess of Cornwall has said she’s ‘delighted’ to own been appointed the vice patron of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which provides a lifetime of support to soldiers and their families.
It coincides with Armed Forces Day on Saturday, which celebrates the work of all military personnel, and the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The Queen has been the patron of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity since 1953 and will stay static in this position.
On her appointment, Camilla said: ‘We owe a huge debt of gratitude to any or all those in the Armed Forces, who steadfastly serve our country.
‘I am therefore delighted to become vice patron of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, an organisation of which Her Majesty is patron, which does such wonderful work to guide soldiers, veterans and their immediate families.’
In April the Metropolitan Police said its officers were arresting a typical of 100 people a day for domestic violence offences, with charges and cautions up 24 percent from the last year.
And last month it had been reported that the number of women killed every week nationally by domestic abuse has risen from two to three since lockdown began, with 24 domestic abuse-related homicides in the first seven weeks alone.
But the duchess believes these figures are ‘just the end of the iceberg’, as new statistics released to the Mail suggest that two-thirds of victims have now been too scared to seek help during the pandemic.
She said: ‘At the moment they do not really know [the extent of it] before lockdown completely eases and individuals are able to discover the true figures. I do not think we will know much before next 2 or 3 months [but] it’s going to be pretty horrific.
‘Can you imagine being locked up with someone who is abusing you, probably with young ones, in a very, tiny flat somewhere? How would you escape?
‘You probably can’t reach a phone, you cannot talk to anyone, if you head out people are not going to want you rushing into their house because they are in lockdown. It must have been absolutely horrific. Completely trapped. Victims may have felt they just had to put up with it.’
Speaking during her first ever phone interview, Camilla said she had been shocked by Safe Lives’ research showing that two-thirds of women had not sought help since Covid-19 restrictions. Most said they felt it was too difficult in terms of their personal safety or that they were dispirited as they had been previously let down by professionals [File photo]
The duchess was speaking to the Mail in her new role as patron of the charity Safe Lives, which is focused on ending domestic abuse in britain; her role will be officially announced today.
Camilla, 72, first attended a meeting organised by the charity with survivors of domestic violence, and relatives and buddies of people who had lost their lives to it, in 2016. The Mail was invited as well.
We told how Camilla shed a tear as she paid attention to the stories of the ladies, including Rachel Williams, who had been blasted in the legs by her estranged husband who cannot bear thinking of maybe not being able to get a handle on her; and Celia Peachey, whose shy mother, Maria Stubbings, was strangled to death with her dog’s lead by her new partner.
In April the Metropolitan Police said its officers were arresting an average of 100 people a day for domestic violence offences, with charges and cautions up 24 per cent from the previous year [File photo]
At that meeting the duchess admitted that she had no idea that two million women report cases of domestic abuse annually and promised she would do anything she could to simply help.
She has made good on her behalf vow, visiting help groups and safe houses all over the world, as well as organising keynote events to highlight the issue.
This February she hosted a reception for Safe Lives at Clarence House, where she again met Mrs Williams and Miss Peachey.
Now she has become Safe Lives’ patron and hopes to utilize her position to try to end domestic abuse ‘for good’.
Speaking during her first ever phone interview, Camilla said she have been shocked by Safe Lives’ research showing that two-thirds of women had not sought help since Covid-19 restrictions.
Most said they felt it had been too difficult in terms of their personal safety or that they were dispirited as they have been previously disappointed by professionals.
One said: ‘My partner’s temper and stress has increased a lot since lockdown and I’m the only thing he is able to take it out on at the moment.’
Asked if there was more the authorities could do, Camilla said: ‘Only about one in five individuals who are abused go right to the police for help. They are more likely to go to friends and neighbours and families. But that has been so much harder all through lockdown.
‘That’s why Safe Lives have just launched their Reach In campaign, to encourage visitors to look out for the other person. So should they suspect something is awry with somebody they can offer help.
‘The whole thing has been shrouded in silence for so long this means it has been a taboo subject, that folks have felt they haven’t had the oppertunity to talk about it.
‘I want to get people talking about it and get the message to people who have been abused that it’s not their fault. I recently want them to know that they are not by yourself; there is help available. And to get available and speak about it. There will be people ready to listen.’
Suzanne Jacob, leader of Safe Lives, said: ‘Survivors are told for a long time sometimes that they are not valued, they aren’t liked, they are worthless. And for somebody who is a member of the Royal Family to come out and overturn that is huge, positively huge.’
For further details of Safe Lives’ #ReachIn campaign to encourage family, friends and neighbours to offer help victims of domestic abuse, visit safelives.org.uk
And she warns of sexting danger to girls
Schools should take a more significant role in educating young adults about coercive control and the dangers to girls of ‘sexting’, Camilla said.
Since 2015, controlling behaviour – extreme psychological and emotional abuse – has been an offence punishable by up to five years in jail.
But you will find concerns that young people – mostly girls – are increasingly being encouraged to send sexually revealing images or explicit messages via text, referred to as ‘sexting’, as a means of controlling them.
Schools should take a more significant role in educating young people about coercive control and the dangers to girls of ‘sexting’, Camilla said [File photo]
Surveys suggest that as much as one in seven girls have sent ‘sexts’.
The duchess told the Daily Mail: ‘I think young people do not really comprehend what’s going on. We’ve got to teach them what healthy and loving relationships look like. I believe it is very important to own talks in schools about this.’
The Safe Lives charity said it in the offing significant work over the approaching year on young adults and how exactly to enjoy healthier, respectful relationships.
Camilla says she wants to ‘lift the shroud of this silence’ around domestic abuse
On a separate call, the Duchess of Cornwall said she hoped to ‘lift the shroud of silence’ surrounding domestic abuse.
She told a Women of the World online festival discussion: ‘It’s not a nice at the mercy of 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 discussed it.
‘As I’ve said before, silence is corrosive because it leaves the victims feeling both shame and blame.
On a split up call, the Duchess of Cornwall said she hoped to ‘lift the shroud of silence’ surrounding domestic abuse
‘I desired to lift the shroud of this silence, and get more women, young ones and men to talk about their experiences.’
Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, who has previously discussed being an abuse survivor, was also on the on line zoom call with the duchess.
The 24-hour online festival hosted by Wow, of which Camilla is president, provides contributors together from all over the world, including civil rights activist Angela Davis, campaigner Gina Miller and actor Sir Patrick Stewart.
They will discuss six themes on problems that impact girls and women, including education, justice, climate, heath, the economy and violence, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.