Thousands of children are growing up in abusive households and not learning how to treat others with love and respect. Children should learn about what sort of relationships are unhealthy and the signs that show someone does not love and respect them. – Helena Bonham Carter


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About the Charity

Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. They are now the United Kingdom’s largest provider of services for women and children escaping domestic violence.

In addition to providing emergency accommodation (refuges), the charity also offers the following:

  • Independent domestic violence advocates to help women going through civil and criminal courts.
  • Team of child support workers who provide one-to-one and group sessions for children affected by domestic violence.
  • Community outreach programmes that work with women who are either unable or unwilling to enter a refuge.
  • Culturally specific services that offer programmes for minority ethnic groups.

Refuge also campaign tirelessly for greater awareness and funding for victims of domestic violence, and work with other agencies to improve best practise for dealing with those affected by domestic abuse. They run a number of campaigns that aim to promote awareness of the signs of abuse, as well as reaching out to as many sufferers as possible to ensure that they know how and where to seek help. One such campaign was the Care or Control? campaign that ran in 2010 (see Helena’s Involvement for more information).

In partnership with Women’s Aid, the charity operates a 24-hour freephone helpline (0808 2000 247) that provides practical and emotional support.

The charities patrons include, in addition to Helena, actor Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, actress Dame Helen Mirren, journalist and newsreader Fiona Bruce, barrister and philanthropist Cherie Booth QC, and comedienne Jo Brand. Other celebrity supporters include Aleesha Dixon, David Morrissey, Ruby Wax and Reese Witherspoon.

All information in this section has been gathered from the official Refuge website.

Helena’s Involvement

Helena has been a supporter of the charity since the age of seventeen and is now a patron.

“Thousands of women and children are frightened to be at home, the one place where they should feel safe. I can’t imagine what that would feel like. Domestic violence won’t stop unless we all speak out against it. We can’t let it go on all around us and not do anything about it. This is a problem that kills people.” – Helena Bonham Carter,

Helena, among other celebrity supporters, backed the Four Ways To Speak Out campaign in 2009, which involved signing the Speak Out petition. In partnership with Avon, the charity held an event to commemorate those who had lost their lives to domestic violence, and encourage people to speak out against domestic violence in four simple ways:

  1. Speak to the government: supporters could sign a petition calling on the government to put an end to the ‘postcode lottery’ of domestic violence services. One in three local authorities do not provide any specialist domestic violence services at all.
  2. Speak out to save lives: supporters could buy and wear Avon’s Empowerment Necklace to commemorate the women killed by domestic violence and help fund vital domestic violence services.
  3. Speak to your local community: supporters were urged to download a poster from the campaign microsite and display it in their local community.
  4. Speak to your friends and family: supporters were encouraged to share the campaign with friends and family.


In February 2010, Helena fronted  the charity’s Care or Control? campaign, which aimed to highlight the subtle ways in which a partner may be controlling and abusive without necessarily resorting to physical abuse and violence. Helena described the campaign as being “imperative to educating women and society as a whole about the early warning signs an abusive man will show…It is vital that women recognise the more subtle signs of abuse and control because this could save them from years of violence and mental torture.” Helena wrote an article for The Sun to publicise the campaign (link coming soon).

Helena also said of the campaign:

“The stereotypical view of domestic violence is a woman with bruising, black eyes and broken bones. But sadly through my work with Refuge I’ve learnt that violence is just one aspect of abuse. Thanks to the support Refuge provides I’ve met many women who have been controlled in more subtle ways, but who have still lived in fear, walking on eggshells. I believe this campaign has the ability to reach out to thousands upon thousands of women so they can escape years of abuse and a lifetime of misery. I applaud Refuge and hope that everyone will get involved in the ‘Care or Control?” –


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Page last reviewed: 14th August 2014


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