In 1971, Refuge opened the world’s first refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence in West London.  Women and children flocked to our doors because, for the first time, someone was saying it was wrong to beat your partner.  Back then, domestic violence was taboo – it was considered a private matter, something to be kept behind closed doors.  Of course, things have changed since then, but we still have a long way to go before domestic violence is truly treated as a serious crime.

That’s why, last September, Avon challenged the UK to create a compelling awareness-raising campaign on the subject of domestic violence.  The winning submission was Charli Bailey’s ‘Wall of Silence’ idea – and over the last couple of weeks this idea has evolved into a far-reaching digital campaign.

CharlieSelfie refuge Charli – herself a survivor of domestic violence – is calling on members of the public to post ‘Shh!’ selfies on Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag #wallofsilence.  The selfies are being collected together to create a real, live ‘Wall of Silence’ on Avon’s website, which can be viewed here.  And for each selfie posted, Avon is donating £1 donation to Refuge and Women’s Aid.

Since its launch last month, the campaign has generated a fantastic response, with celebrities like Maria Sharapova, Olivia Colman, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Fearne Cotton and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg all posting ‘Shh!’ selfies online.  And there is still time to get involved – the Wall of Silence campaign runs throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which end on 10th December.

Charli has created a powerful campaign that draws attention to the very real ‘wall of silence’ that still surrounds the issue of domestic violence.  This is, after all, a crime that affects one woman in four and kills two women every week, and yet people are always shocked when they hear those statistics.  Domestic violence is still shrouded in myth and misunderstanding.  People still don’t think of it as a serious crime.  It is still trivialised and dismissed.  Negative attitudes towards victims persist, and, as a result, women are made to feel somehow responsible for their abuse, and are discouraged from speaking out.

Domestic violence is, of course, protected by silence, so the first step to addressing these problems is to start talking – and Charli’s campaign encourages everyone to do just that.  By taking part in ‘Wall of Silence’, you can help to put domestic violence firmly in the spotlight, where it belongs.  I would urge everyone to take part today, and help to bring domestic violence out of the shadows.

sandra horley, ceo of refugeABOUT AUTHOR 

Sandra is CEO of Refuge