Victoria Derbyshire discusses growing up with a violent father

Danny Thompson
·Contributor
·3-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 13: Victoria Derbyshire attends the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall on May 13, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Victoria Derbyshire attends the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall on May 13, 2018 in London. (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Victoria Derbyshire has opened up about growing up with a violent father in a BBC Panorama special.

The presenter has said she faced some “really difficult times” during childhood and reveals she once had to contact the police over one of his outbursts.

In a clip from BBC Panorama: Escaping My Abuser, Derbyshire said: “I remember once, he locked my mum in their bedroom and he was hitting her and there was loads of noise and I was scared.

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“So I ran from here down to the police station which was, I don’t know, maybe a mile or something?

“I was 12 or 13, I was so scared, I just ran to the police station, just ran in and said, ‘My dad’s hitting my mum, please can you come’.”

Discussing Boris Johnson’s stay-at-home orders at the beginning of the lockdown, she said: “One of my first thoughts was, ‘So, what if you are living in a house with a violent partner?'

Presenter Victoria Derbyshire leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London, after it was announced that her TV programme is being taken off air. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Presenter Victoria Derbyshire leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London, after it was announced that her TV programme is being taken off air. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Because you would be literally trapped.”

In an article for the BBC news website, Derbyshire said that when she heard her father’s key in the door “I remember my whole body tensing”.

“What mood would he be in when he came home from work? Would he provoke an argument?” she added.

“Would it lead to him hitting me, whipping me with his belt or just slapping me round the back of my head?”

She added going to school while he was working “meant respite from the disruptive shouting and cruel violence”.

Refuge, the charity which runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, has reported a rise in the number of calls they received during lockdown, receiving over 40,000 calls since it began.

Refuge’s telephone helpline, which ordinarily logs around 270 calls and contacts from women, friends and family members needing support every day, saw an increase of 77% during June.

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Director of operations Jane Keeper said last month there had been “huge spikes in the number of women who have needed or support during lockdown, and as restrictions start to ease we are seeing demand rise yet more”.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be contacted for free at any time of the day or night on 0808 2000 247.

BBC Panorama: Escaping My Abuser is on BBC One on Monday (17 August) at 7.30pm.