The Duchess of Cornwall delivered a powerful speech as she spoke out against the “heinous” problem of domestic abuse at the Women of the World Festival on Friday. Camilla, 72, who is president of the organisation, addessed the ‘corrosive’ effect that the issue can have, saying: “I find it almost impossible to think that any friend of mine might be living under that horrific threat, without my knowing it, but that is the power of coercive control and violence in the home. It is characterised by silence – silence from those that suffer – silence from those around them, and silence from those who perpetrate abuse.
“This silence is corrosive; it leaves women, children and men carrying the burden of shame. It prevents them from speaking out about the abuse and it prevents them from getting help. And at its worst it can be fatal.”
Camilla launched this year’s WOW Festival
The Duchess explained that she had spoken to many women through her work who have lived with coercive control, calling them “some of the bravest people I have ever met”. Only last month did Camilla reveal that she has friends who have been victims of domestic violence.
In her speech, the Duchess encouraged both men and women to raise awareness of the “taboo” subject and used her very first hashtag #everyonesproblem. She said: “The campaign to end domestic violence needs the voices of men as well as women, challenging the cultural, economic and political context in which we all experience the world. We will all benefit from building a society which will simply not tolerate this heinous crime any longer.”
Camilla with the panellists at the WOW festival
One in four British women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime and two women a week were killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales last year, Camilla said. Before the event, she met domestic abuse survivors and campaigners, as well as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.
The Duchess then listened to a panel discussion in the name of the #everyonesproblem hashtag. Chaired by WOW Foundation founder Jude Kelly, it featured businesswoman, campaigner and domestic abuse survivor Gina Miller; chief executive of SafeLives charity Suzanne Jacob; Celia Peachey, whose mother was murdered by an ex-partner with a history of violence and domestic abuse; and Naomi Donald, who suffered abuse as a teenager and young woman.
Camilla became President of WOW (Women of the World) in 2015, having been involved with the organisation since 2010. The festival runs until 8 March.