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My crusade for victims of rape: The Duchess of Cornwall urges nation to build a future in which sex crimes are not tolerated after record number of offences were logged

14th October 2015

This is an article, written by The Duchess of Cornwall, for the Daily Mail, 14/10/2015

Over the past five years, I have visited many centres for victims of rape, here and overseas, which offer survivors a safe haven and a different future.  I have spoken to many of them whose bravery in speaking out and sharing their stories was truly humbling.  This is, both for the speaker and the listener, a harrowing experience.

Rape and sexual abuse: these are words that make most of us feel uncomfortable.  Until recently, they were issues which were not really discussed but now, I hope, there is a change in the air.

This challenging subject has been brought to the fore in recent years with some shocking news stories; these last for a few weeks, but for those who have been the victims of rape and sexual abuse, the traumatic effects can be long-lasting, not to say life-long.  They leave their indelible mark.  I have seen for myself some of the remarkable work being done by the representatives of rape crisis organisations, the NHS and the Police across the country.  During these visits I have been very impressed by the professionalism and commitment of the individuals who provide a life-line to the women, children and men who have been left traumatized and often made to feel worthless through no fault of their own. 

There are no easy answers and no quick fixes, but that should not stop us thinking of small ways to help.  One project (piloted at the three Havens in London) which I think has helped, provides survivors with a wash-bag filled with some special products.  It can’t change what happened, but it is a gesture which I hope shows a little thoughtful care to sufferers of abuse at a very fragile time.

It is not for me to discuss the underlying problems which may cause sexual violence and abuse, but I have glimpsed some of the appalling aftermath.  The statistics remain truly horrifying.  There are, however, more centres now where comfort and help to recover can be found.

I will continue my work in the hope that it will help to shine a light on the violence hiding in the dark corners of our society.  I have said it before and will say it again: we must try to build a future where we will simply not tolerate rape and sexual abuse any longer ….