Rachel Williams was seven months pregnant when Darren Williams grabbed her by the throat and lifted her off the ground. Now a campaigner, she has called for the amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill to be enshrined into law. The Bill, which was debated in the House of Lords yesterday, is meant to offer better support for victims.
It also seeks to prohibit cross-examination in family proceedings in certain circumstances, along with tackling offences involving other abusive behaviour.
The Bill also seeks for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to be appointed.
Sweeping changes have already been made to offer domestic abuse victims extra protection within the Family Court, in the wake of the Daily Express’s End This Injustice crusade.
Rachel, 49, survived being shot by her late husband as she worked in a hair salon in Newport, South Wales, after 18 years of domestic abuse.
She said it is vital that the Government acts now over non-fatal strangulation.
The amendment to the Bill is also being championed by Baroness Newlove, the former Victims’ Commissioner.
Rachel said: “Time is of the essence. A non-fatal strangulation offence strengthens the Bill and sends out a real message to the perpetrators of abuse.
“It’s one of the acts they use really for power and control. Not only will it save lives but it gives that message to victims and survivors.
“I have spoken to hundreds of thousands of victims over the years and not one of them said they did not have their perpetrator put their hands around their necks, and mine used to.
“Your risk of homicide goes up seven times and the risk of stroke for people under 40 goes up by 40 per cent. One woman said that her mum lost her voice for a month after being strangled.
“They are getting charged with common assault, which is the same as a slap.
“It’s purely about power and control. When it happened to me, I thought it was the end. It happened so quickly. My lips turned blue. I couldn’t believe he had done this and I was carrying his child.”
Actor Michael Sheen and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley have been also backed the campaign.
In the Lords, Baroness Newlove said: “This Bill will provide much-needed support to domestic abuse victims and will contribute to a change in making domestic abuse unacceptable.”
She called for non-fatal strangulation to be made a stand-alone offence, adding: “It would be an unforgiveable missed opportunity if this Bill does not address this issue.”
She was backed by other peers including Tory Baroness Bertin, who said: “Non-fatal strangulation is a red flag to murder.”