Labour MP Rosie Duffield reveals she was a victim of domestic abuse

Tom Gillespie, news reporter

An MP received a standing ovation in the House of Commons after emotionally revealing how she had been the victim of domestic abuse.

Rosie Duffield, the MP for Canterbury, urged other victims to come forward after revealing that she had been coercively controlled during the domestic abuse bill debate.

Former prime minister Theresa May, in her first speech since returning to the backbenches, had earlier urged MPs to seize the "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to pass the "landmark" new laws.

Ms Duffield said: "So what is domestic violence or abuse and where do we get our ideas about it from?

"Often we see the same images and stereotypes on TV - housing estates, working-class families, drunk men coming home from the pub, women surrounded by children, and a sequence of shouting followed by immediate physical violence or assault.

"But the soap opera scenes only tend to focus on one or two aspects of a much bigger and more complex picture.

"Domestic violence has many faces and the faces of those who survive are varied too."

Ms Duffield described how the signs of coercive control are not apparent at the start of a relationship, but gradually start to build up and develop.

She added: "Abuse isn't just about those noticeable physical signs, sometimes there are no bruises.

"Abuse is very often all about control and power, it's about making themselves feel big or biggest, but that's not how abusers present themselves."

Ms Duffield said that "every day is emotionally exhausting" for victims of coercive control, who often to have to put on a "brave face" at work.

She added that there comes a point for victims where their abuser's mask "has slipped for good and questions are starting".

Ms Duffield urged others to come forward if they are suffering coercive control, and said after leaving the relationship "you realise you've survived".

She continued: "That the brightest and most precious thing of all is to realise that you are loved and believed by friends, family and colleagues who believe in you and support you.

"So if anyone is watching and needs a friend, please reach out if it is safe to do so and please talk to any of us because we will be there and we will hold your hand."

The domestic abuse bill seeks to give better protection to those fleeing violence by placing a new legal duty on councils to provide secure homes for them and their children.

It would also introduce the first legal government definition of domestic abuse, which would include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

A domestic abuse commissioner to champion survivors has also been proposed.

Mrs May had earlier championed the bill in the Commons, which is seen as a key part of her legacy from her time in Number 10.

The former Conservative prime minister insisted the legislation is about "changing the attitude" people take to domestic abuse.

She also recalled stories of people, particularly women, who have been hit by their partners, adding it is "the sadness in our society" that so many people "don't know what a good relationship is" and who "suffer in silence".

Mrs May said: "Domestic abuse blights lives, it can destroy lives, and not just the life of the immediate victim, but of those children and other family members as well."

She added: "I believe this is a landmark piece of legislation."