Wednesday 28 September 2016

Bonham Carter joins charity walk against domestic violence

Published 11/09/2016 | 13:11

Helena Bonham Carter and Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, join survivors and supporters walking across Millennium Bridge, London
Helena Bonham Carter and Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, join survivors and supporters walking across Millennium Bridge, London
Helena Bonham Carter and Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, join survivors and supporters walking across Millennium Bridge, London

Helena Bonham Carter marched shoulder-to-shoulder with survivors of domestic violence during a charity walk around London.

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The actress donned trainers, pink sunglasses and a Refuge T-shirt as she took part in the charity's 10k walk in the warm September sunshine.

Also showing support was Louiza Patikas, who is voicing Helen Titchener in the radio drama the Archers.

The BBC radio 4 storyline has gripped thousands of viewers, who heard the character suffer increasing domestic abuse at the hands of husband Rob (Timothy Watson).

It is due to culminate with the end of Helen's trial later on Sunday in a dramatic hour-long special episode.

Patikas said it was a pleasure to kick off the walk and support "the fantastic work that Refuge does".

Speaking at the start line near Tower Bridge, she said: "Playing Helen in The Archers has taught me a great deal about the horror of domestic abuse and coercive control, and also introduced me to amazing people - the most courageous survivors of abuse, and the wonderful people who work for and support charities like Refuge.

"So thanks to every one of you for turning out today to walk in support of past and present victims of abuse, and also in celebration of the life-changing and life-saving work done by Refuge."

Around two to three hundred people clad in white and pink Refuge T-shirts walked over four London bridges, in recognition of the one in four women who experience domestic abuse at some time in their lives.

The route saw the group cross the River Thames over Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge.

Last year's debut walk raised £87,000 - a phenomenal amount of money, said chief executive of Refuge Sandra Horley.

She said she hoped this year it would raise "much needed funds to keep our services going", adding she was grateful to have life-long friend Bonham Carter and Patikas to help shine a light on the hidden issue.

Ms Horley said: "The Archers has been absolutely fantastic, it's brought awareness of domestic violence into people's kitchens and living rooms and it's raised awareness of what is a taboo subject.

"It's a hidden issue, it's something people don't want to talk about, it's shrouded in silence and secrecy and thrives behind closed doors, so it's really important that Walk4 helps us raise awareness, raises funds, and Helena and Louiza can help shine a light on what is a very gritty and distressing cause."

Melanie Clarke was in an abusive relationship for 15 years where she experienced "horrific" physical, emotional and financial abuse.

The 32-year-old from London said: "I was so depressed. I felt scared, very ashamed, embarrassed because I had stayed in such an awful situation, my kids were subjected to it as well - lot of guilt and shame."

Asked what gave her strength to finally walk away, she said: "I just knew that if I stayed with him he'd end up killing me. And I was thinking of my children, they needed to have their mother. I was carrying my unborn child at the time and I was thinking about his future."

Mrs Clarke left her partner three years ago - "the best thing I did" - and is now happily married.

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