LOVE should not hurt, warns a survivor who was shot and left for dead after years of abuse.

Rachel Williams is just one woman who suffered within a violent relationship for almost two decades and now spends her life inspiring other women to speak out.

As concerns over a second national lockdown looms in Wales, Rachel says more people are going to suffer at the hands of their perpetrator.

She said: “Domestic abuse is an epidemic and needs to be tackled. I have seen a massive increase in people reaching out. I’m like a one-man bandit, I’m an independent domestic violence advocate online and last month alone I had over 700 direct messages on my Facebook Page ‘Don’t Look Back’.

“I also have over 1,300 emails so people are reaching out. With my Freedom Programme I have supported over 200 women since lockdown.

“It’s an epidemic. The only good thing to come out of the pandemic is that it has launched domestic abuse right at the forefront of campaigns and raised awareness a bit more.

“I don’t think it had the amount of coverage as it should have been afforded. Two women a week die at the hands of a former or current partner and now it’s likely that number has increased to three, so it’s only a good thing that it has shone an even brighter light on the situation.

“We know that globally at least 137 women are killed each day at the hands of a current or former partner so it’s not something that is just in the UK, it is a global thing.

“I am worried that a second national lockdown will make matters worse. People are coming to the end of their tether and when the pubs shut and perpetrators are at home more, they will take this out on their partners. I think this will escalate.”

Freedom of Information data obtained by the Leader shows that between January and August of this year, there had been 10,991 cases of domestic abuse reported to North Wales Police.

In the same period in 2019, there had been 11,402 reports made to North Wales Police.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council defines domestic abuse as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 16+ who are/have been intimate’.

In 2020, the months with the highest number of cases reported were July and August with 1,486 each, whereas in 2019 the highest month was August with 1,532.

The Leader:

In 2019, a total of 16,637 cases of domestic abuse were reported to North Wales Police.

In 2020, February, June and July had more reported cases than the same months in 2019.

In February 2019, a total of 1,282 cases of domestic abuse were reported to North Wales Police compared to 1,300 in 2020.

Similarly, in June, 1,345 cases were reported in 2019 compared to 1,382 in 2020 and in July a total of 1,447 cases were reported in 2019 compared to 1,486 from this year.

The Leader:

Jack Sargeant, MS for Alyn and Deeside has been working alongside Rachel to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

He said: “These statistics show that more needs to be done to tackle domestic abuse in our communities. It is unacceptable that anyone is unsafe in their own homes and exposes one of the hidden side-effects of lockdown, during which many instances of abuse will have gone unreported.

“If you are concerned for the wellbeing of yourself or someone you know, please call the Live Fear Free 24/7 helpline on 0808 80 10 800 for help and advice relating to domestic abuse.

“As a White Ribbon ambassador, I would encourage residents to sign the White Ribbon pledge to never commit, excuse or remain silent about domestic violence. We all have a role to play in bringing an end to domestic abuse.”

The White Ribbon Campaign aims to end male violence against women by engaging with men and boys to take a stand against violence.

However, Rachel said that, in this year in particular, many cases go unreported for fear of the repercussions.

She told the Leader: “The concern before the lockdown was that there would be less movement, especially if these perpetrators are at home a lot more so it makes sense that the reporting may have gone down.

“I’ve done a lot of interviews about this and my local chief constable said she was also concerned, because it’s not about cases going down, it’s just that the reporting has gone down.

“That’s why we are asking neighbours and family and friends to check on people. If you are taking food to someone who is self-isolating ask if they are alright. Be a bit more vigilant.”

Rachel wrote a book called ‘The Devil At Home’, which takes readers on a journey about her experience of domestic abuse and how her partner left her for dead.

She suffered 18 years of abuse and was left for dead when she was shot by her estranged husband after she left him.

The Leader:

In her book, Rachel takes readers through her life journey where she met a ‘gentle giant’ who soon became a ‘monster’.

She describes how she was ‘not living’, she was ‘existing’, before taking the brave decision to leave the relationship and file for a divorce.

However, after weeks of harassment and threats, in August of 2011 her estranged husband walked into her place of work and shot her with a sawn-off shotgun.

Rachel now wants victims to know that love should not hurt, and people do not have to suffer in silence.

She added: “Reach out. Don’t think that services aren’t working, they may be working remotely but there’s always someone you can call and there are safe places you can go.

“Just know that there are people waiting for the call. And something I really stress to people is that the police will come, they will come through that door.

“Don’t think they won’t turn up. If you can’t make a noise on the phone, then do the 55 alert to let the call handler know you cannot speak.

“You haven’t got to suffer in silence.”

The Leader:

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (ONS) for the year ending March 2019, an estimated 5.7 per cent of adults (2.4 million) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.

The police recorded a total of 1,316,800 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in the year ending March 2019 (Incidents cover reports where after initial investigation, police concluded no notifiable crime was committed).

Of these, 746,219 were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes, an increase of 24 per cent from the previous year.

According to statistics from White Ribbon UK - a campaign that aims to end male violence against women once and for all - two women are killed by a current or ex-partner every week, and six out of seven victims are female.

Around 31 per cent of women have experienced one or more instances of domestic abuse since the age of 16.

Further statistics from SafeLives show that each year, more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result from domestic abuse.

If you are in immediate danger, always call the police and dial 999 if it is an emergency. Press 55 if you cannot talk.

Alternatively, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on freephone 0808 2000 247.

Further help and advice can be found online on a number of websites, some of which include:

Websites for women:

National Domestic Abuse helpline:

Welsh Women's Aid:

Rights of Women:

Websites for men:

Respect - Men's Advice Line:

ManKind Initiative: