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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Camilla 'shines a light' on sex abuse survivors in visit to rape support centre

Written by The Press Association

The Duchess of Cornwall has said she is hopeful her work to raise awareness of the devastating effects of rape and the stories of survivors will "shine a light" on hidden violence in society.

In a visit to the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre in Croydon, Camilla met staff, volunteers and victims, praising their work on an issue she has campaigned for over the past few years.

She said: "Thank you for your huge support for this issue which is truly important. I have been very impressed by the professionalism and commitment of the individuals who provide a life-line to the women, children and men who have been left traumatised and often made to feel worthless through no fault of their own."

Camilla was joined by Home Secretary Theresa May who thanked the Duchess for her support of the cause, and said police were now better equipped to deal with victims of abuse.

She said: "We have been doing a lot of work with police in how they deal with these issues. Please do feel that you can come forward with your story, the police will take it seriously and where it is possible to bring people to justice we will seek prosecutions."

Mrs May added that Camilla's involvement with the cause will hopefully encourage victims to come forward.

She said: "Somebody like her talking about this, which is not easy for people to talk about, is hugely important and sends a very clear message to victims and survivors that what has happened to you - please do come forward and report it."

Earlier the Duchess had written in the Daily Mail announcing her commitment to the cause. She said: "I will continue my work in the hope that it will help to shine a light on the violence hiding in the dark corners of our society. The bravery of those who have recounted their harrowing experiences is humbling."

Rape and sexual abuse are topics which in the past have not been discussed openly, Camilla said, but she added that she hopes attitudes are changing.

Describing the aftermath of an assault as "appalling", she said that while there are "no easy answers and no quick fixes", there are little things that can be done to help.

After Camilla came up with the idea two years ago of providing wash bags of toiletries to victims so they can shower after undergoing forensic examination, Clarence House is now looking at extending the scheme, which was piloted at specialist sexual assault referral centres in London.

The Duchess is to follow her visit by meeting with volunteers who pack the wash bags.

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