Refuge opened the world's first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. Women and children flocked to our doors because, for the first time, someone was saying it was wrong to beat your partner. Back then, domestic violence was seen as a private matter, to be dealt with behind closed doors. Society turned a blind eye. Since 1971, Refuge has led the campaign against domestic violence. We have grown to become the country's largest single provider of specialist domestic violence services.