An MP Has Spoken Movingly About The ‘Terror’ And ‘Shame’ He Felt Witnessing Domestic Abuse As A Child

MP Mark Fletcher said, ‘Behind closed doors, many things go on.’

Domestic Abuse

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

The Domestic Abuse Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday and there was many an impassioned speech, both in person and via video link.

There were speeches in favour of Grazia and We Can’t Consent To This’s campaign to ban the ‘rough sex’ defence and many who spoke were concerned about the rise in calls to domestic abuse hotlines, following lockdown.

But one speech in particular was praised by ministers for its courage – that of Bolsover MP, Mark Fletcher. The 34-year-old Conservative MP was voted into place in the December election, and, standing in the House of Commons, he talked about the severe impact domestic abuse had on his childhood.

There have been calls for the government to expand several areas of the bill – and many have asked for it to more explicitly recognise the trauma suffered by children who witness domestic abuse at home.

He said: ‘Very sadly, I grew up in a household where we encountered incidents of domestic violence. Let me say that it casts a lifelong shadow on those children who are affected.'

'Behind closed doors, many things go on. There are many secrets. Those doors do not have to be those of people who are lower class, middle class or upper class; they don’t have to be of members of one socioeconomic group or one minority characteristic or another. These doors do not discriminate. There are secrets behind them.

‘Unfortunately, I had a step-dad who reigned with physical terror. I regret that I remember the difficulties we had when he became violent. And when he decided, one day, to come home and beat my mum to a point where she needed strong support, and where he came upstairs and blamed me – an 11-year-old kid – and used words that I wouldn’t repeat in Parliament ever. Those are things that shape you. Those are things that, unfortunately, you can never forget.

‘I don’t remember particularly well the period afterwards of economic manipulation in which he took, or tried to take, control of the family’s money. But I do remember the visit of the psychiatric nurse to help my mum.

‘I remember her shame – her shame – for nothing that she had done, her shame at not being able to tell the authorities, when she denied it to the police, when I was lying to my school. I remember that shame.

‘That’s something that nobody should have to go through. If there is anything that we should take away from this Bill, and this fantastic session of Parliament today in which we have heard so many brilliant contributions, it’s a very simple message: this must end.’

Those are things that shape you. Those are things that, unfortunately, you can never forget.

MP Rosie Duffield, who last year spoke movingly about her experience of domestic abuse, when the bill was first brought to parliament, also spoke in person. She said that since her speech last year, she had received hundreds of emails, ‘reminders of the grim reality in many households in the UK'.

She added: ‘The ones I don't hear from as much, however are the ones in the middle of this reality right now. They are living locked down, locked in, locked away. Threatened and terrorised by someone who thinks it's OK to use his wife, partner or family as an emotional or physical punchbag. What almighty cowards they are.’

READ MORE: MP Rosie Duffield's Account Of Domestic Violence Is The Most 'Horrifying And Moving' Commons Speech In Decades

READ MORE: The Rough Sex Defence Is 'Post-Mortem Abuse' - MPs Debate The Domestic Abuse Bill

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