VALENTINE’s Day brought it home to me: there are thousands of abused women in Britain for whom this was not a special day. I am fortunate that my husband, Mark, is a gentle giant, but in my near 13 years as an MP I have come across truly awful stories of the damage a man can inflict on a woman.
While there are cases of female attacks on men, the reverse is usually the more devastating because, almost always, the man is the stronger of the two. And even if the physical injuries heal, the psychological wounds often remain. As a mother of a teenage girl, I think we need to tell our daughters that there is one type of man to avoid at all costs: a violent one, or one who has excessively jealous or controlling patterns of behaviour.
The figures for domestic abuse are shocking: 12 women die each week due to an abusive partner: two are killed by a current or former partner and 10 commit suicide. Tragically, around 90 per cent of all incidents of domestic are witnessed by a child.
Organisations such as the NSPCC sometimes pick up on cases of both child and spouse abuse, as an out-of-control male in a relationship may attack both the mother and her children. The causes of such abuse are varied and complex. Drink and drugs may play a part, but often there is a generational history of male violence that continues with each family chapter. Breaking that cycle of abuse is vital.
No woman need suffer behind closed doors. There are sources of help, nationally and locally. Make a Better Life Trust, (MABL) in Solihull provides assistance for victims of domestic abuse: it also collects visual evidence for the police. Its website ( www.mabltrust.org.uk) has valuable numbers for sources of help and its free helpline 0800 0326317.