Rachel is founder of SUTDA, (Stand Up to Domestic Abuse) a Patron for WCID – What Can I Do and an Ambassador for Locality Solutions.

Rachel Williams

After 18 years in an abusive relationship, Rachel was shot and severely injured by her violent partner in 2011. He then committed suicide, as did her 16 year old son Jack, shortly after the attack.

Rachel spent several weeks in hospital and now lives with life altering injuries.

Rachel is founder of SUTDA, (Stand Up to Domestic Abuse) a Patron for WCID – What Can I Do and Ambassador for Locality Solutions.

She campaigns tirelessly and is committed to ending domestic abuse.

She has 4 successful petitions on change.org with a combined 1/2 million signatures.

A qualified IDVA, Rachel also runs an online awareness Facebook page called Don’t Look Back.

Her ambition includes to set up the ‘House that Jack Built’ a children and young person’s refuge and place of safety, in memory of her son.

Getting to know Rachel a little.

What would you tell someone who maybe in a similar situation to you now?

I would say that you do not have to tolerate this behaviour from someone who is supposed to love you. Whilst you are living with or in a relationship with a domestic terrorist you are fighting for survival every day, you are existing and not living. You are stronger than you think and there is light at the end of the tunnel, it takes that small drop of courage to make that call to a service who can help and support you on your journey to freedom. You are not alone! But, get that help don’t do it alone.

Do you ever feel down, do you have days when you are low?

To be honest my glass is always half full. Your attitude is something that you have control of. Your mind is like a television, it can sometimes play “stuff” that you don’t want to watch, but you hold the remote control. If something is playing that you don’t want to watch…change the channel.

Did you know that 75% - 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thoughts? So in other words, what we think about, affects us physically and emotionally. (Dr Caroline Leaf)

Dr Caroline Leaf states…The average person has over 30,000 thoughts a day. Through an uncontrolled thought life, we create the conditions for illnesses, we make ourselves sick! Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 14,000 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.

I have retrained my thoughts and through forgiving Darren this releases me from these toxic thoughts, which then would have had a detrimental impact on my health.


What did you do for selfcare?

I am a foodie, and I love wine! So I do enjoy going to restaurants and trying new food. I also love travelling and have been to some amazing places, Australia, Hawaii, USA, Canada, Thailand, to name a few. I am very blessed!

How were you able to trust again?

I have an amazing husband who I met on Match.com (all in my book) It was a little hard at first as the barriers were up even though I wanted them to come down. It takes time. Also, by doing the Freedom Programme this gave me an understanding of how perpetrators tick…so I was on the look out! I think that everyone has a soulmate somewhere and sometimes like me you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince.



During these difficult days, weeks and months ahead, we have to be more forward thinking than ever when it comes to helping the most vulnerable in society, those whose homes are not safe havens, not today…not ever!

It has already been reported that other countries which are on lockdown have seen an increase in domestic abuse by 30%, 40% and 50%! This increase WILL hit the UK.

In the UK there are only 4,000 refuge spaces, with 19,000 referrals last year, can you just imagine based on the above figures, the increase need for refuge spaces during and after lockdown?

I am calling on the Government to arrange for Air BnB’s, Hotels and BnB’s to be used to take the overspill from the refuges. Local Authorities to open up ‘empty properties’ where appropriate to be used to help accommodate those fleeing. 

Our Government to put in place special measures to allow police to have the power to evict perpetrators from homes for the duration of the lockdown.

Police to have extra resources to deal with domestic abuse call outs.
Restraining Orders/Non-Molestation Orders to be free for ALL those seeking them, and for them to be heard in court (these hearing are currently taking place virtually and via phone) as a matter of priority.

We need to make sure that all domestic abuse services have adequate PPE as they are frontline, still providing accommodation services which means they are going into refuges and are still doing face to face contact for community services where needed.

DA services to have adequate supplies of mobile phones and alarms readily available to issue to those who may seek safety in Hotels etc. so that they can have access to 24-hour support.

All funding to go straight to DA services and not via Local Authorities. Funding must be there for services during and after lockdown, as the anticipated increase in cases will have damaging effects financially to services.
Services need further funding to meet these demands.


We are all survivors of domestic violence, it affects our lives and the lives of our children. Individually our stories are unique but we are united in our determination to make a change.

Since speaking out about our abuse many people have shared their experiences with us. One story we hear time and time again is of ex-partners breaching their licenses or restraining orders. But when the breach is reported to the police often nothing happens. The perpetrator does not face consequences and is not arrested.

That's why we've started this petition calling on Theresa May to review licenses given to perpetrators of domestic violence, and make sure victims are protected.

When you report domestic violence to the police and a partner is convicted, you should be confident that you will be protected from them. The power of arrest should mean the power of arrest and as a matter of priority. If a perpetrator breaks their license and contacts their victim, they should know without a shadow of a doubt they will be arrested. Or if they breach any of the restrictions listed added to an order / license they should be held accountable as stated and signed by the judge, again as a matter of priority.

People who have experienced domestic abuse should not have to live in fear for the rest of their lives.  

When Theresa May was Home Secretary she often spoke up for the rights of victims of domestic abuse. Now she is Prime Minister we hope she will stand up for us once again and use her authority to carry out the reviews necessary to make sure the system works for victims of domestic violence and that the laws set are upheld.

Please join us & sign our petition! We believe with a united voice we will be heard. We will keep shouting until we see change. Let's put an end to domestic abuse, we owe it to the next generation, our children and our grandchildren. 

By Rachel Williams, Mandy Thomas & Becky O'Brien


Last night Manchester Crown Court’s Judge Richard Mansell ruled that he would not jail Mustafa Bashir, a man who made his wife drink bleach and, at one point, struck her over her back with a cricket bat saying: "If I hit you with this bat with my full power then you would be dead." Judge Mansell concluded she was not vulnerable enough because she was "an intelligent woman with a network of friends" and a university degree.

The Judge handed out a suspended sentence of 18 months - a punishment which is not enforced unless a further crime is committed during a specified period. What message does this send out to perpetrators of domestic abuse?

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecution at the Crown Prosecution Service needs to take domestic violence seriously. Like Bashir’s partner, I went through hell with my ex, enduring domestic abuse for 18 years. At one point I was shot with a sawn-off shotgun and then beaten. My 16 year old son took his life as a result of this. I also had a network of good friends - does that mean I was not vulnerable enough too? What ignorance by the system.

For years I have been saying that judges who deal with these cases don’t fully understand the issue of domestic violence, including the power dynamics of the perpetrator and victim and how it can make you a prisoner in your home - regardless of your network of friends and how intelligent you are.

I am actively campaigning in the domestic abuse arena to see that all services listen to the voice of those who have and still are victims/survivors. Sadly we are experts by experience. All Judges should have mandatory domestic abuse training because their lack of knowledge is putting lives at risk, those lives of the vulnerable people.

I am calling on the Alison Saunders to agree to meet me, and show that the CPS understands that work needs to be done so that Judge Mansell’s actions are never repeated.


Last year, by order of the High Court advised by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), my friend’s two high school children were taken by force in the middle of the night from the home of their mother. They were dragged out of her house screaming, put into a police van and taken to live at their father’s house. They were told their reasons for not wanting to see their father weren’t good enough and that they must have a relationship with him. 

If this sounds shocking - the truth is that this is happening in the family courts all the time. Just a glance through the comments of this petition will give you an idea.

Ever since the children’s Mum left their father, he continued to find ways to exert power and control over her. The kids didn’t want to see their Dad, but with the help of a specialist barrister, that only he could afford, the children ended up being taken in the middle of the night.

Children are as much victims of the domestic abuse they see and hear.

Many months on, the children write to Cafcass asking for help, describing how miserable they are, begging to be returned to the care of their Mother and demanding their ‘human rights’. They are still not being listened to.

The Cafcass website says: "We put children’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that children’s voices are heard at the heart of the family court setting, and that decisions are made in their best interests"

But CAFCASS is doing the opposite.

These youngsters asked for help. So we did research, asked questions and have received numerous letters describing more Cafcass horror stories where children are not listened to and put at risk by unsafe child contact orders.

We also found that the rights of (mainly) women, who are trying to escape abusive relationships, are still not being heard and prioritised. This is despite Family Court rules issued in 2016 which say they must be.

Family Court secrecy means that mistakes can go undetected. Concerned parents are often seen as being ‘difficult’ and ‘obstructive’. Then they are forbidden from, and afraid of speaking out!

We must stop this happening. The decision makers in the Family Court must be properly trained to spot patterns of domestic abuse and the culture of secrecy must change to being more open.

We demand that the Government ensures that in the family courts:

Mandatory Training & Education already recommended by Family Court Rules and that this is independently monitored.

These rules state:  ‘All members of the Family Court judiciary and Cafcass professionals must undergo mandatory specialist training in the dynamics of domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour, the frequency and nature of post separation abuse, the impact of domestic abuse on children, on parenting and on the mother-child relationship.’

The Rights of Children must always be upheld - no child should ever be subjected to this type of forced removal against their will and then left in distress and without a voice. The voices, wishes and feelings and the human rights of children should be paramount in the decision making of the courts regarding contact arrangements.


Strangulation is a very symbolic act of control which leaves its victim in no doubt that there is a real and visceral threat to their life. If you put your hands on someone’s throat and squeeze the message and terror for the victim is clear. As a survivor of domestic violence - I know the impact it has.

That’s why I’m calling for it to be made a specific criminal offence, as part of the current review of domestic violence legislation. This will give the power to police and the justice system to treat these offences with the seriousness it deserves

Some violence is more dangerous and frightening than others, not just in that it is more likely to cause death or serious injury, but in what it predicts. Strangulation is a very particular form of assault for three reasons:

1.    It is likely to cause serious injury or death
2.    It is perceived by the victim as a direct threat to their life
3.    It is a highly predictive of future homicide

Not everyone uses a strangulation or simulated strangulation assault in an altercation – it is controlling people who do this, and the message to them must be clear. Too often strangulation assaults in the UK are either not charged, or are explained away as ‘sex games’

Research shows that it is not taken seriously, even where the victims have lost consciousness. [1] This needs to change before more lives are lost. New Zealand’s government is  making non-fatal strangulation a new offence that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. [2] We must do this too.

Please help by signing thank you

Rachel Williams 

[1] Monckton Smith

[2] https://lawcom.govt.nz/sites/default/files/projectAvailableFormats/NZLC-R138.pdf

Campaign “Trouble with an Ex” for Gwent PCC and Stalking Network

Stand up to Domestic Abuse 2022