Canterbury MP condemns domestic abusers as violence surges during lockdown

Rosie Duffield has condemned domestic abusers who are using the coronavirus lockdown as an opportunity to control partners and family members.

In parliament on Tuesday, the Kent MP urged the government to ringfence millions of pounds for charities, labelling domestic abusers as “almighty cowards”.

Rosie Duffield Official Portrait

The Canterbury and Whitstable MP previously spoke in the commons back in October, where she talked about her own experience of abuse

Speaking to the House on Tuesday, she said: “I had no idea then how much impact those eight minutes would have on my life.”

“Within a couple of hours, my speech had gone viral on social media, was all over the globe.”

“I chose to speak about something extremely personal because I felt it was important to remind others – the vast majority who are, of course, women – that they are not alone.

Ms Duffield says she received hundreds of emails after her speech, detailing the abuse that happens to people every day “They still arrive every day, as reminders of the grim reality in many households across the UK.”

“The ones I don’t hear from as much are those who are right in the middle of this reality, right now,” she said.

“They are living locked down, locked in, locked away. Threatened and terrorised by someone who thinks it’s okay to use his wife, partner or family as an emotional or physical punchbag.

“What almighty cowards they are – bullies who seize the opportunity of a global crisis to show those smaller and weaker than them that they are in control.”

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown, the charity Refuge says.

Visits to the UK-wide National Domestic Abuse helpline website for information were 150% higher in comparison to the last week in February.

Ms Duffield praised the police officers, counsellors, refuge workers, and others working endlessly throughout the pandemic to help abuse victims escape from their situations.

She emphasised the importance of women like Elaine, from Canterbury-based domestic violence and abuse charity Rising Sun. “(She) is in my phone if I need to talk to her, or to have a boost, as she is for many other women around my part of Kent,”.

During the debate on the Domestic Abuse Bill, which had its second reading in the Commons yesterday, Ms Duffield emphasised how vital these services are and asked for the government to ring-fence £75 million to help fund domestic abuse charities like Rising Sun.

If you are in danger, please call 999 immediately or 101 for non-emergencies. If you call 999 but are unable to speak, dial 55 and the operator will direct your call to the police rather than ending it.

NSPCC Childline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week 0800 1111.

Choices Domestic Abuse Services: 0800 917 9948 (covers Medway) 

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 

Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse service: 0808 168 9111 

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors: 0808 801 0327 

The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK: 0808 808 4994 

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 

Victim Support: 0808 1689 111 

Or Women’s Aid