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MP Rosie Duffield, of Canterbury, speaks about being a victim of domestic abuse

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has spoken out about being the victim of domestic abuse.

The Labour member was given a standing ovation in parliament today after delivering a moving account of her ordeal.

Rosie Duffield speaks out in the Commons

She was speaking during a second reading debate on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

"Domestic violence has many faces," she said.

"And the faces of those who survive it are many. There are 650 MPs in this place, 650 human beings.

"We know statistically it is highly likely some of us have suffered abuse relationship or grown up in an abusive household.

"Abuse may not have physical signs; sometimes there are no bruises."

Mrs Duffield, who was elected in 2017, told how the signs of domestic abuse are not at first apparent.

"Abuse may not have physical signs; sometimes there are no bruises" - MP Rosie Duffield

"Abuse is about control and power," she said.

"They don’t criticise, cajole or yell... not at the start when they think you are sweet, funny and gorgeous, not when they want to impress you, not when they turn up with chocolate and jewellery; not when they meet your friends; your parents or the leader of your political party.

"It is only later when the door is locked to your home. Only then do you get to learn what control and power look and feels like.

"That is when you learn that ‘I’ll look after you’ and ‘you are mine for life’ can sound menacing and are used as a warning over and over again.

"It is when the ring is on your finger that the mask begins to slip and the promises begin to feel like threats.

“It starts slowly with a few emotional knocks, alternated with romantic gushes that leave you reeling and confused; spinning around in an ever-changing but always hyper-alert state.”

Mrs Duffield went on to describe how on weekends away, she learned what to expect.

“You do exactly as you are told," she said.

"The same pattern repeats itself; rewards, then punishment and promises of happy ever after followed by abject rage, menace then silent treatment.

“One night after more crying after being constantly abused because you suggest he helps pays a bit to the cost of your new sofa, you realise you have reached the end and cannot endure yet another day, week and certainly not for the rest of your life.”

The MP described suffering through "months of verbal abuse, threats and incidents he knows you will never disclose" before ending the relationship.

MP Rosie Duffield is comforted by colleagues after her speech
MP Rosie Duffield is comforted by colleagues after her speech

She said the "brightest" part of moving on from such abuse was realising "you are loved and believed".

She said eventually she learned to relax but only after several months and how "she dared to believe she was free".

In an emotional end to her speech she said: "If anyone is watching and needs a friend please reach out... we will be there and we will hold your hand."

House Speaker John Bercow said the address was both the most moving and horrifying account he had heard in the chamber in his Commons career.

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