The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed that she has friends who have been victims of domestic violence, in a rare interview with the The Daily Mail. Camilla, 72, said: "No one knows what goes on behind any front door. It affects everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are. That would be my message to people: whoever you are, wherever you are from, there are organisations that can help you. Go and get help. Talk to them, just get up and talk about your experiences. They will help."
READ: Duchess of Cornwall gives moving speech at domestic abuse charity reception
WATCH: Camilla hosts reception for SafeLives at Clarence House
The Duchess spoke about someone who had confided in her about their own problems: "Yes, well I recently had somebody I know well, whose daughter was married and living in a foreign country. I said to her one day 'You’re not looking quite right, what’s wrong?'
"She said 'I have this terrible problem with my daughter. I can't believe it as I have never experienced anything like this before. She’s got this strange husband who is exercising coercive control which is undermining her confidence, getting rid of her friends, alienating her family. I just don’t know what to do about it.' The fact I knew a little bit about it meant I was able to put her in touch with people who could help."
The interview followed a reception at Clarence House to mark the 15th anniversary of SafeLives, a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse for good. The Duchess has championed domestic abuse charities in the UK and overseas for more than a decade. She first heard about the work of SafeLives during a visit to the charity in 2016 and has continued to support them ever since.
Camilla was visibly moved during her first meeting with SafeLives in 2016
Camilla, who was visibly moved to tears during her first meeting with survivors four years ago, told The Daily Mail: "I didn’t really know the extent of domestic abuse and I think until I got to that meeting – you probably felt this too – and we all sat round, that I wasn’t sure what I was going to expect.
"And then one after the other these ladies got up to tell their stories and they were so brave – it was one of the most harrowing experiences I’ve ever, ever had. And I thought to myself, this is going on, what are we doing about it? You know people, I know people that it has happened to. But I don’t think we ever believed it was that bad."
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Camilla with staff and supporters of SafeLives
Founded by Baroness Diana Barran MBE at her kitchen table in 2005, SafeLives established the "best friend" rule: if your best friend was experiencing domestic abuse, what would you want for them?
Last year, more than 65,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 85,000 children were helped through dedicated multi-agency support designed by SafeLives and delivered with partners; nearly 11,000 professionals working on the frontline received training through SafeLives. In the last three years, nearly 1,500 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change through interventions the charity has created with partners. The charity has trained 27,500 police officers and staff in 20 forces across the UK as well as more than 3,000 independent domestic violence advisers to support those most at risk.
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