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A speech by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at a reception hosted by Her Royal Highness to support victims of rape and sexual abuse

Published on 5th February 2013

Home Secretary, Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Clarence House.  I’m completely indebted to you all for coming today. The purpose of asking you here is to try and form a united front to help victims of rape and sexual abuse.

I know all of you have come from different parts of this spectrum, but I believe it is so important to acknowledge how vital your work is in giving that helping hand to those vulnerable people who have been victims of sexual abuse in some form or other - without your enormous contribution, this taboo subject would not be spoken about so openly today.

Over the past few years I have seen for myself some of the remarkable work being undertaken by representatives of rape crisis organisations, the National Health Service and the Police across the country. During my visits to some of these centres I have been so impressed by the professionalism and the commitment of the individuals who provide a lifeline to the women, the children and the men, who have been left shamed and  traumatised and made to feel so worthless through no fault of their own.

I have spoken to many of these victims whose bravery in speaking out and sharing their stories has been truly humbling this, as many of you here know, is, both for the speaker and for the listener, a harrowing experience.

This challenging and emotive subject has been brought to the fore in recent months with some shocking news stories although it is by no means a ‘new’ story.  The findings of the Government’s recent report into sexual offending revealed once again that the number of victims reporting these crimes is only a tiny proportion of the total and even fewer of these cases end with a conviction. 

So I conclude, Ladies and Gentlemen, with the hope that this reception will draw you all together from every corner of the country to share your expertise and experiences and, perhaps, from this small beginning we will be able to build a future where society will simply not tolerate rape and sexual abuse any longer .... 

Thank you all very much.