Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, has created a chilling poem that tells the story of a woman who has experienced domestic violence at the hands of an abusive man.
Following a successful Christmas campaign, Refuge has published a reversible poem to emphasise the severity and pervasiveness of domestic violence on Valentine’s Day, and draw attention to the various forms it can take.
Even now, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. And on average, another three women a week commit suicide as a way of escape. Furthermore, in 2018, eight out of 10 women Refuge supported had suffered psychological abuse for an average period of six years.
Read one way, the poem tells the story of a whirlwind romance, but when read in reverse it depicts the terrifying reality of living with a perpetrator of domestic violence. The campaign, created for Refuge by advertising agency McCann Bristol, aims to raise awareness of the hidden, insidious nature of domestic violence, and lets victims know that, when their partner ‘turns’ and becomes controlling, they can turn to Refuge for the support they need to escape and rebuild their lives.
Refuge believes that no-one should have to live in fear of violence and abuse. On any given day Refuge supports more than 6,500 survivors, helping them to escape violence and fear and rebuild their lives.
Natasha Saunders, who suffered domestic abuse for eight years at the hands of her ex-husband, says: “I lived with the fear of violence every day for a decade, but the run up to Valentine’s always brought a new pressure and I dreaded the day. I was subjected to emotional abuse as nothing I did was good enough; he’d tell me there weren’t enough endearments on the Valentine’s Day card, the present wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smiling enough, and so on. The day always ended with an argument, followed by more physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I hope that anyone reading these poems on Valentine’s Day turns to Refuge, as I did – reaching out really could save a life.”
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says: “For many, Valentine’s Day is a time to enjoy being with a partner. However, thousands of women and children will be spending this Valentine’s Day, like every other day of the year, in fear and terror. Refuge is urging anyone who is experiencing abuse today, or any day of the year, to reach out and access support. Remember, you are not alone – Refuge is here to support you in confidence.”