Today (Friday 25 November) is White Ribbon Day which highlights the global movement to put a stop to violence against women and girls.
In the UK, 1.3 million women are victims of domestic abuse every year and, in 2014-15, 81 women were killed by a current or former partner.
These are horrifying numbers and we must work together across society: through government, charities and as individual men and women to end this violence - every bruise or piece of psychological or emotional abuse is one too many.
The White Ribbon Campaign works to involve men in opposing violence and abuse against women, and to help and support those experiencing domestic abuse.
Locally, these efforts are furthered by Sussex Police which, in 2013, became the first police force in the country to receive the White Ribbon award for its work tackling violence against women. And, on this day last year, the force launched a campaign to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to report incidents early before the abuse escalates.
This week, I was privileged to speak at the 45th birthday celebrations for Refuge, the UK’s largest single provider of specialist support to women and children escaping domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. I remember supporting Refuge and its fantastic chief executive Sandra Horley at its 25th birthday and I have visited the Refuge centre in Hastings which does so much to support local women and children and offer them support and safety when they need it most.
Since 1971, Refuge has been a leading voice in the campaign to end domestic abuse. It has worked assiduously to raise the profile of an issue which was not spoken about publicly and their centres have provided safe places for victims to go when their own homes have become too dangerous. At present, these centres support four and a half thousand women and children per day. I would like to pay tribute to Refuge and to all those who work for the organisation, including here in Hastings and Rye. Protecting people from violence and abuse has been a priority for government and it is a key responsibility for me as Home Secretary.
Since 2010, the Government has rolled-out Clare’s Law to allow women to check if their partner has a violent history, introduced Domestic Violence Protection Orders, and begun to change how police forces respond to domestic abuse. A Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy has been launched with the ambition that no victim of abuse is turned away from the support they need - £80 million has been pledged between now and 2020 to help achieve this. Included in this is £20 million to increase refuge spaces and other accommodation for women fleeing domestic abuse. This is a hugely important issue and one where, often, some of the greatest injury is out of sight and done behind closed doors. Only by working together as a society to tackle this problem can we ensure that domestic violence is always challenged and never ignored.