Duchess of Cornwall on rising domestic abuse during Covid-19 lockdowns

Duchess of Cornwall says ‘we all know someone in an abusive relationship’ on visit to women’s refuge that has seen domestic abuse cases soaring in Covid lockdown

  • Camilla, 73, in shock admission while speaking at women’s refuge in Berkshire
  • ‘I think we all [know abuse victims], though sometimes we don’t want to admit it’
  • Demand for domestic abuse victim services shot up during Covid-19 lockdowns  
  • Call 0808 2000 247 for free 24-hour support with National Domestic Abuse Help

The Duchess of Cornwall has conducted a revealing interview about the rising number of domestic abuse cases over the past 12 months. 

Speaking at a women’s refuge in Reading, Berkshire, the royal revealed the very personal effect witnessing domestic abuse has had on her.

Camilla, 73, spoke passionately about the fact many of us across Britain will know domestic abuse victims and may not even admit it. 

Earlier this year, Camilla revealed her own friends had suffered domestic violence and she has long advocated for more specialist support, becoming the patron for charity SafeLives last year.

The Duchess was left visibly shaken after speaking to survivors in 2016, but she broached the topic very differently this time around on her first in-person visit to a domestic abuse refuge since lockdown restrictions eased.

The Duchess of Cornwall (pictured) spoke with 18 female domestic abuse survivors at a Berkshire women’s refuge and professed: ‘We all know someone in an abusive relationship’

Speaking with 18 female survivors at the Berkshire Aid refuge, Camilla pointed to rising domestic abuse numbers and the fact we ‘all know someone in an abusive relationship.’

The royal told The Telegraph: ‘Well I think if you’ve known somebody then it really does hit home.

‘You feel “goodness, this is probably going on under my nose and I didn’t know about it”. 

‘And that makes you feel guilty, in a way, that you weren’t there to help at the time you were probably most needed.’ 

At least two women are killed each week in the UK by current or former partners and more than two million report domestic abuse each year. 

Demand for domestic abuse support services spiked throughout the country during Covid-19 lockdowns, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And this is no different at the Reading refuge, which has seen three times as many referrals and hundreds more calls, emails and messages each week, according to Andrea West, CEO of Berkshire Women’s Aid.

At least two women are killed each week in the UK by current or former partners and more than two million report domestic abuse each year. File picture

Camilla continued: ‘I’ve certainly known people who have suffered… suffered from it.

‘You think “oh well, domestic abuse means that somebody’s hit you occasionally when you’ve had a row or somebody’s gone too far”. 

‘But you’ve got no idea what really goes on in most relationships.’

When asked if it was plausible that we might all know somebody who is living in an abusive relationship, the Duchess’ answer was clear.

‘Yes, certainly. I think we all do. Though sometimes we don’t want to admit it.

‘I think once you’ve seen what can happen, you just want to go and stand out and say: Look hang on a minute everybody, do you realise what’s going on all around us?’ 

Camilla (pictured in 2016) struggled to hold back tears as she heard from women about their harrowing experiences of domestic abuse

In 2016, Camilla cut an emotional figure after speaking with survivors in south east London.

Since then, the Duchess has stepped up to become one of the champions of domestic abuse support, speaking at events, charities and more each and every year.

During the interview, Camilla also revealed her excitement at the prospect of hugging her grandchildren again – following the recent birthdays of Princess Charlotte, 6, Prince Louis, 3, and Archie, 2.  

‘It’s been so lovely just to be able to see them again and talk to them’, the royal said.

‘Telephones and machines and these Zooms are fine, but nothing’s ever the same as being able to give somebody a good hug. 

‘I’m waiting for the final date when we can actually go into each other’s homes, to be able to sit down and have a proper lunch and, you know, just have a proper life again.’

Call 0808 2000 247 for free, 24-hour support with the National Domestic Abuse Helpline.

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