Dame Helen Mirren in call to bring domestic violence out of the shadows
Actress Dame Helen Mirren has urged people to take to the streets to help bring domestic violence "out of the shadows".
Refuge has organised a 10km walk across four bridges in London next month to raise vital funds for the domestic violence charity, which has suffered cuts in funding to 80% of its services in recent years.
The Oscar winner called on men, women and children to take part in the event and said that the march, on September 11, would be "an act of protest".
"Refuge works tirelessly to support women and children who experience domestic violence. The work this amazing charity does, day in day out, saves and changes lives," Dame Helen said.
"That is why I'm backing Refuge's 10km event, Walk4, which provides an opportunity for people to play their part in bringing domestic violence out of the shadows, whilst showing women who may be experiencing abuse that they are not alone.
"A march is an act of protest - on September 11, hundreds of women, children and men will show London and the rest of the country that violence against women and girls will not be tolerated."
Dame Helen, who is patron of what she called a "remarkable charity", said: "I would urge you all to Walk4 Refuge and Walk4 the one in four women who experience domestic violence in their lifetimes."
The walk, which last year raised £85,000 for Refuge, will take place on London's Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge.
Simon, 57, who took part in the walk last year, experienced domestic violence as a child.
"My father was abusive. My siblings, our mother and I all suffered his violent behaviour. Every day, we were on edge and fearful," he said.
"Sunday lunch was often the worst time. We would eat in silence, listening out for the slam of the car door - then my mother would grab his lunch out of the oven for him. Once she was two seconds too late. My father struck her and she fell to the ground. I remember everything on his tray flying across the room.
"At the time, Refuge did not exist. We did get out eventually - but if Refuge's support had been available, rebuilding our lives would have been so much easier."
Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley CBE said: "Despite the fact that domestic violence is the biggest issue affecting women and children in the country today, it remains a taboo subject.
"But not on September 11 - hundreds of people will take to the streets to bring the issue out of the shadows whilst raising funds."