real life

Boss's emotional letter details life when an employee was under her abuser's control.

In 2011, Rachel Williams was busy at the UK hair salon she worked in when her ex-husband Darren walked in and shot her at point blank range.

She had left him six weeks earlier after 18 years of marriage and abuse. Darren shot her and then later himself.

While Darren died almost immediately, Rachel incredibly survived and has spent the years following campaigning and raising awareness around domestic violence.

domestic abuse shooting
Rachel today. Source: Facebook / Don't Look Back.

On Tuesday, the 44-year-old who says she's "a victor, not a victim" shared a letter that her former employer wrote for her case to her Facebook page. It highlights what her life with Darren was like.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I employed Mrs Rachel Court then known as Haywood as a Junior Hairstylist at my salon Bonkerz Hair Centre from June 1999 until Easter 2002.

domestic abuse shooting
Rachel in hospital following an attack from Darren. Source: Facebook / Don't Look Back.

Although I was always very pleased with Rachel's standard of work her employment didn't come without problems. Her partner Darren Williams controlled her working life. For example we all led him to believe that our male trainee was gay. This was because Rachel was not allowed to work with heterosexual males, she was also not allowed to cut the hair of men or lesbians. Darren's demeanour was intimidating and we were all afraid of him "kicking off", he would make surprise visits to the salon and check our appointment book to try to catch her out. I remember one particular day when Rachel was the only stylist available to cut a gents hair and I had to order all my trainees to circle around her and the client to block any view from the street whilst she cut his hair. The fear of her getting caught was tangible and the whole salon was on pins.

domestic abuse shooting
Rachel had to have her knee reconstructed after Darren shot her. Source: Facebook / Don't Look Back.


I have no doubt that Rachel was controlled by Darren and to be honest, myself and the rest of my staff were all fearful of him.

Furthermore Rachel was also only allowed her hair to be styled in his preferred style and was not under any terms allowed it coloured. Only one time we broke the tinting rule, the following day Rachel came into work and begged for the colour to be removed. Rachel explained that she had been ordered by Darren to reverse her hair back to its natural colour. Of course it was!"

domestic abuse shooting
Rachel now works to raise awareness around domestic violence. Source: Facebook / Don't Look Back.

Rachel, who has since remarried, wrote alongside the letter: "If there are any employers out there or work colleagues please be observant of your fellow staff members.

"If you feel powerless and feel there is nothing you can do, when you think someone is being abused then please please just ask your local police force...Just raise your concerns please."

In addition to the letter, Rachel - who is now a Women's Aid ambassador - has also shared images of her physical recovery from the attack to her Facebook page and has since written a short book titled Don't Look Back.

Mia Freedman talks to abuse survivor Rosie Batty on No Filter. 

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or online. For emergency assistance, contact police on 000.