The Duchess of Cornwall had a trying day as she listened to women speak of their stories of domestic abuse at SafeLives yesterday.
A national charity that works to protect people from harm caused by partners or family members, SafeLives hosted the event at their headquarters in London in which Camilla attended.
The Duchess was moved to tears after speaking with Diana Parkes, the mother of murder victim Joanna Brown. After Camilla said Mrs Parkes was a “incredibly brave lady” and pledged to do “anything I can” to help raise the issue of violence in the home.”
Understandably also in tears, Mrs Parkes told Camilla how her daughter’s estranged husband, British Airways captain Robert Brown, spoke to her how he also dreamt about murdering his kids with an axe. Robert killed Joanna with a claw hammer while their children hid in a playroom, he then disposed of her body in Windsor Great Park. In 2011, he was jailed for 26 years after admitting manslaughter.
“It’s so important that people like yourselves speak up otherwise we gloss over it. And this is too important an issue to ignore.” Camilla said to the women she met.
“Stories like this just have to be aired otherwise domestic abuse becomes a taboo subject.
“I want to do anything I can to help raise this issue. All of you going around and talking about it does create awareness.”
Another of the five women who spoke at the charity event, Rachel Williams, discussed how after 18 years in an abusive marriage she finally tried to leave her husband, yet he shot her with a gun at the hairdresser where she worked in 2011.
In another heartbreaking story, Ms Williams told guests that she was able to defend herself when he attacked but consequently unable to deal with what his father had done to his mother her 16-year-old son later committed suicide.
Each of the women speaking used objects to help them tell their stories, for Ms Williams that was the wristwatch she wore when she was attacked, the watch stopped at 2:26 pm- the time she was shot.
Ms Williams said: “He then put the gun down to reload. I grabbed the gun, a supernatural strength enabled me to hold onto the gun. This watch with the face now frosted is the result of a battle as we fought for control of the gun, as my wrist was dragged in every direction over the floor.”
Ms Williams’ estranged husband killed himself after the shooting.
Domestic abuse can be life-threatening, more than a 100,000 people in the United Kingdom are at high and imminent risk of being seriously injured or murdered every year.
In 2013-14, there was 85 women who were murdered by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.