Esther McVey MP urges a change in language around 'domestic' violence

An MP has urged Government to re-think the language surrounding domestic violence – claiming it does not convey the horror many victims face.

Tatton MP Esther McVey said to label all domestic violence incidents under one umbrella term detracts from the seriousness of many crimes.

She said: “In too many cases the phrase domestic abuse needs to be replaced with what it really is, assault, battery or murder. To simply say domestic abuse, does not always conveys the horror many victims experience. It feels as if we are devaluing what happened to a person by labelling it domestic violence.”

Ms McVey has raised the matter with ministers in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

She added: “I have spoken to domestic violence charities and heard from people who have suffered the most horrendous abuse and experiences. If someone is beaten within inches of their life, why is it not grievous bodily harm or attempted murder. While no amount of discussion around semantics will ever change the horrific ordeals some people go through, I believe it would go some small way to recognising the severity of the abuse if we were to use appropriate terminology rather than an umbrella term.”

This week the Domestic Violence Bill received its second reading in Parliament. It means for the first time a government definition of domestic abuse will be enshrined in law to also include financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

Ms McVey added: “It is right we recognise that abuse takes many forms and we need to do everything in our power to protect anyone suffering any form of abuse or are in a toxic situation, whether it is a woman, man or child.

“During the lockdown there have been worrying reports on the news about increased numbers of calls to domestic violence helplines. I urge any victim of domestic abuse to call the police and get in touch with individuals or organisations that can help them in these difficult times.”

The Bill also will place a legal duty on councils to offer support for those fleeing violence.