Refuge, UK’s largest domestic violence charity, unveils chilling reversible poems to expose hidden nature of domestic violence at Christmas

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, has created a series of menacing poems that tell the story of women and children who have experienced domestic violence at Christmas.

Even now in 2018, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  Two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.  And on average, another three women a week commit suicide as a way of escape.

To raise awareness of this growing epidemic, which is often overlooked during the festive season, Refuge is publishing a series of three reversible poems, to emphasise the severity and pervasiveness of domestic violence at Christmas.

Read one way, the poems tell a positive story, but when read in reverse they depict the terrifying reality of living with a perpetrator of domestic violence. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the hidden, insidious nature of domestic violence, and lets victims know that, when their partner ‘turns’ and becomes controlling, they can turn to Refuge for the support they need to escape and rebuild their lives.

Actress Maxine Peake is supporting this campaign by reading one of the poems.  Maxine said:

I’m delighted to support Refuge’s Christmas campaign to raise awareness of the terrifying reality that women and children face when they live with a perpetrator of domestic violence. Nobody should have to live in fear in their own home at any time of the year, but for those who do, it’s a relief to know that they can turn to Refuge’s services throughout the country and know that they will be listened to, believed and supported to rebuild their lives free from violence and coercion.”

Refuge believes that no-one should have to live in fear of violence and abuse. On any given day Refuge supports more than 6,500 survivors, helping them to escape violence and fear and rebuild their lives.

Men who abuse their partners are often charming and charismatic at the beginning of the relationship, and then ‘turn’ into controlling and often violent aggressors over time. This campaign aims to capture this experience and reassure victims that they are not alone. Two of the hard-hitting poems tell the stories of female victims, and the third tells the story of a child who witnesses and experiences domestic violence at Christmas.

Refuge’s reversible poems campaign launches on day nine of ‘16 days of action,’ a global movement to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. From 25 November, the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. Refuge’s reversible poems highlight this crucial issue and offer victims support, no matter the time of the year.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:

Two women are killed by their current or former partners every week in England and Wales alone.  Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today – it really is a life and death issue. Yet still too few women know how to spot the signs of domestic violence, realise that domestic abuse is a crime or know that Refuge is here to support them.  Domestic violence happens all year round – including at Christmas.  We want women to know that no matter what time of year, no one should suffer in silence and they should ‘turn’ to us for support.”

Get help now. If your partner turns on you, turn to us. If you are in need of support please visit:

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