Domestic abuse is a pernicious crime that can affect us all. Experienced predominantly, but not exclusively, by women, we know that there are men who suffer too, there are children who witness it and remain at risk, and concerned families, friends and neighbours who are affected. It has no geographic or demographic boundaries and can go undetected and undisclosed for many years.
Indeed, there was a time, not too long ago, when violence in the family home was simply dismissed as being “just a domestic”. We have moved on from that, but we need to go further.
That is why during my time as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice I was pleased to be able to work on the Domestic Abuse Bill, a landmark piece of legislation that this Government remains committed to reintroducing to Parliament.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will raise awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families. It will also help transform our response as a society, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and support their families to ensure they have the support they need.
One of the most significant measures in the Bill is the introduction of a legal definition of domestic abuse, and with this the recognition that abuse can take many forms, including economic abuse and coercive control. It will also establish a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner to be a voice for victims.
Support for victims and their families remains central to tackling Domestic Abuse and I was fortunate to be able to visit Black Country Women’s Aid and learn at first hand more about the tremendous work they do. Their dedicated and experienced team provide vital and much needed support.
With an estimated 2 million adults experiencing domestic abuse in the year ending March 2018 the Bill provides a clear and much needed commitment to shine a light on domestic abuse. We owe it to all those millions of people who suffer in silence to do something about it, and to do it now.
In last week’s much anticipated and talked about reshuffle, the Prime Minister appointed me as a Minister at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, a position I was incredibly honoured, humbled and very happy to accept.
My new role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will bring new challenges as we shape Government policy following our departure from the European Union, but the most important thing to remember is that nothing changes locally. Rest assured, it does not diminish my commitment to Aldridge-Brownhills and I remain your Member of Parliament and will continue to make your views heard at Westminster.
This article was first published in the Royal Sutton Observer on Friday 28th February 2020