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Article for The Sun for domestic violence week

The Sun: 8th February 2007

Cherie Booth QC speaking as Patron of national domestic violence charity Refuge: ;It’s been over 30 years since I handled my first domestic violence case as a young barrister. But it is etched in my memory. I was 22 with...

Cherie Booth QC speaking as Patron of national domestic violence charity Refuge:

;It’s been over 30 years since I handled my first domestic violence case as a young barrister. But it is etched in my memory. I was 22 with little idea of the terrible things going on behind closed doors in homes across the country. I was shocked to see women arrive at court, physically and emotionally shattered - beaten black and blue, their self-esteem destroyed by years of verbal and emotional abuse.

I quickly realised that many women were living in fear in the very place where they should feel most safe- their own home. Even more upsetting was the knowledge that some had been beaten while pregnant or that the violence had taken place in front of their children.

I am delighted to say that the attitude of the law, of the police and of society as a whole to domestic violence has been transformed for the better over the last 30 years. Women have far more protection than in the past. The courts and police take violence in the home much more seriously and treat victims with great understanding and sensitivity. And society no longer believes such violence should be kept behind closed doors or blames the victims for the attacks.

Refuge can take real pride in the role it has played over the last 35 years in changing attitudes, in helping bring about this progress and in offering practical support for victims. But there’s no room for complacency when the figures show that one in four women will experience domestic violence sometime in their life. We know as well that too many women still feel ashamed that they are victims, feel trapped in their abusive relationships and don’t realise the help now available to them.

That’s why the work of Refuge continues to be so crucial and why the Sun and This Morning’s campaigns have stuck such a chord with the public. Thanks to your efforts, more women than ever now know that they do not have to suffer alone.

As a Patron of Refuge, I am proud to add my own voice to those demanding we make clear that there can be no excuse for domestic violence. Together, we can end the violence, the misery, the fear and the isolation that swallows up so many women.