Domestic Abuse Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:32 pm on 2nd October 2019.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 4:32 pm, 2nd October 2019

My hon. Friend could have intervened and given me an extra minute, by the way.

My right hon. Friend Dr Fox talked about the advice GPs have given about perpetrators. In the case of Luke and Ryan Hart, the GP explained that he thought their father, who went on to shoot their mother and sister in broad daylight, was a fine, upstanding member of society. Clearly, he was totally taken in by that gentleman’s narcissistic personality disorder.

The Bill’s measures on secure tenancies raise a few more questions. Crisis raised with me and other Members the fact that people who flee abusive relationships and request emergency housing have to keep telling their story at every level. It would be fantastic to have a single advocate with whom those people could go through that process, easing the burden on them. There is nothing worse for people than having to rehash their story time and again. Not everybody is as bold and brave as Rosie Duffield and can use their story for such powerful advocacy. Extraordinarily, the perpetrator often stays in the property; the person fleeing has to give up everything rather than being supported to stay in their house.

I welcome the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, which means we can start to talk about awareness. We are working on an awareness campaign that talks about entry-level red flags to stop people getting into abusive relationships in the first place. That is being led by the Daily Express, along with my former staff member, Robyn Thackara, who has become a formidable campaigner on emotional abuse issues and in particular highlights narcissistic personality disorder. They are doing a wonderful job to explain those basic things to stop people getting involved.

There is no domestic violence without emotional abuse in the first place, whether that is gaslighting or projection. Often, women—although, as we have discussed, this is not necessarily solely about women—are less like a frog in boiling water, which will leap out when it first senses danger and pain, than a frog in cold water that is heated up slowly. Women are often drawn into an abusive relationship over a period of time, until it is too late—until they have been brainwashed and, in effect, kidnapped in plain sight.

It is important to understand that, when we highlight narcissistic personality disorders and cluster B disorders, we are talking about people who cannot easily change. We therefore need to put the emphasis back on ensuring that people do not get involved in the first place and that all the organisations around them, and all of us, are aware. We need to talk about these things in the same way we talk about things such as “stranger danger” so we can look out for each other and people do not get in this position in the first place.