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WATCH: Labour MP Rosie Duffield shares harrowing experience of domestic abuse

3 min read

In an emotional Commons speech, Labour MP Rosie Duffield said she had suffered "constant hurt" during her coercive relationship.

The Canterbury MP received a standing ovation after she laid bare her experience of facing abusive behaviour at the hands of a former partner.

Speaking during a Commons debate on the Domestic Abuse Bill, Ms Duffield said abuse was not always noticeable by physical signs, but instead was "very often all about control and power".

"It’s about making themselves feel big or the biggest,” she added.

“But that’s not how abusers present themselves. It’s not how they win your heart. It’s not how they persuade you to meet them for a coffee, then go to a gig, then spend an evening snuggled up in front of a movie at their place.

“When they ask you out, they don’t present their rage, and they don’t tell you that they like the idea of strong, independent, successful women but not the reality. They don’t threaten, criticise, control, yell, or exert their physical strength in increasingly frightening ways.

“Not at the start. Not when they think you’re sweet, funny and gorgeous. Not when they want to impress you. Not when they turn up to only your third date with chocolate, then jewellery. Not when they meet your friends, your parents, or the leader of your political party.

“They don’t do any of that then. It’s only later, when the door to your home is locked. Only then do you really start to learn what power and control looks and feels like.”

The bill, introduced days before Theresa May stepped down as Prime Minsiter would bolster the definition of the crime, by allowing authorities to crack down on economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

It would set up Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders that would allow earlier intervention from the police and courts where abuse is suspected.

And it would also ban the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts and introduce a  Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold local and national government to account.

“Every day is emotionally exhausting, working in a job that you love but putting on a brave face and pretending all is good, fine, wonderful in fact," Ms Duffield added.

“Then the pretence and the public face start to drop completely. Being yelled at in the car with the windows down, no attempt to hide behaviour during constituency engagements. Humiliation and embarrassment now added to permanent trepidation and constant hurt.”

The tearful MP, who eventually escaped her partner after locking him from her home, urged other victims to speak out if they were safe to do so, adding: "If anyone is watching and needs a friend please reach out. We will be there and we will hold your hand."

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