Victims of domestic abuse should not suffer in silence
Column by Gareth Davies, MP for Grantham
Every year over 2.4 million Britons experience domestic abuse in their own homes.
This six per cent of our population is made up of both women and men who find that the one place that should be the safest, their home, is actually a hidden prison.
This was already a problem in our society but unfortunately, as we have all faced a sustained period in lockdown owing to coronavirus, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline run by the charity Refuge has increased by some 49 per cent in just a few weeks.
As if living with a domestic abuser was not bad enough, being told to stay indoors for even longer must be unbearable.
This week the Government brought forward a new Domestic Abuse Bill for its second reading which means that MPs can debate its contents and its importance.
Often such debates in the House of Commons are a hotbed of partisan bickering and point scoring. Not this time.
We heard some incredibly moving first-hand accounts from MPs who have suffered from domestic abuse in their own lives, members of all parties and genders.
One of the most moving speeches came from the new MP for Bolsover, Mark Fletcher, who spoke about how as an 11-year-old child, he had to witness the constant violent abuse of his mother in their own home. He highlighted that often, despite appearances, there is more going on than we realise.
That is particularly true in rural areas where domestic abuse is not just more prevalent, it has been shown to last 25 per cent longer as victims find it harder to speak out and move away from smaller village communities.
The new Domestic Abuse Bill will bring in new powers to help protect and support victims, but it also creates a statutory definition to emphasise that abuse comes in many forms, whether that’s emotional, violent, sexual or even financial.
One of the most important things we can do is to highlight what domestic abuse is and ensure that those who are suffering from it know that help is available. So, if you are reading this feeling vulnerable, in danger or trapped, know that you are not alone.
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 0808 2000 247