A Labour shadow minister has spoken of how she is suffering from renewed nightmares after recalling her experience of being sexually abused as a child.
Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people and the MP for Lewisham Deptford, told HuffPost UK that the recent murder of her mother’s abusive ex-partner had prompted her to consider speaking out about the abuse she suffered growing up.
“It’s a bit weird when you share stuff about yourself and your family so obviously I chatted to them quite a bit first,” she said.
“I spoke to my mum and my sister some time ago – especially after my mother’s ex-partner was murdered – about speaking up about stuff, and I had to 100 per cent have their permission. They were keen for me to do it.
“And then because there’s this new slot talking to MPs about their life, it seemed like the right place to do it.
“I’m glad it’s done now.”
On Monday Foxcroft gave a moving interview to GB News’ Gloria De Piero in which she opened up about the sexual abuse she and her sister suffered at the hands of her mother’s violent partner at the time.
Foxcroft told the channel that her family was forced to move home regularly to escape the abuse and that she became separated from her sister when they were moved to safe houses – prompting her sister to feel Foxcroft was “abandoning her”.
“It was awful,” she said.
In an interview with HuffPost UK, Foxcroft said she used to suffer from nightmares during that time in her life – nightmares she said had resurfaced since the interview.
“I think when you’re younger, when you’re not an adult yourself, that’s a hard period – the fear of if your mum goes back with him and you go into care and get separated from your sister,” she said. “I think that was probably the hardest time for me.
“I used to have a lot of nightmares – and just recently I’ve been having a few more nightmares. Hopefully that will go quite soon – hopefully it’s fleeting because it’s all been there in my mind.”
Foxcroft said one of the main reasons for speaking about her experience was to “try and change things”.
She said her experience of being moved around as a child was being replicated across the country to this day.
“Part of the reason for talking about stuff is to try and change things, and the government needs to invest a lot more in domestic abuse refuges,” she said.
“I know from some of my own casework that when we’re trying to get people into places we just ring some many different places until we can find somewhere.
“Sometimes people come to us from other parts of the country trying to escape stuff, and the systems and joined up approach is not good enough, and sometimes we see people go back to abusers.
“That’s precisely the reason why we need to make sure they have housing and security for their kids.”
“The simple answer is, if you’ve not got a government investing in this – and far too often we hear the right warm words but actually not the money and support that needs to go into that.”
In July the government released its violence against women and girls strategy, which includes proposals such as a £5m fund to increase the safety of girls in public places at night and the pilot of a tool that allows women to anonymously report areas where they feel unsafe.
But Labour has published its own green paper of proposals, including making misogyny a hate crime, toughening existing sentences for rapists and stalkers and making street sexual harassment a crime.
Recalling the effect that growing up with domestic violence had had on her throughout her life, Foxcroft told GB News that she had felt “quite angry” and had asked herself: “Why is this happening in my life?
“Why, on my eight year old birthday, am I getting a pair of school shoes and I’m not getting a tub of hair gel, which I really want?
“But when you get older, you realise, actually, your mum couldn’t afford that. And, actually, she was prioritising the things that were important for you.”
During the interview Foxcroft also revealed how she had suffered a miscarriage at the age of 16, which she described as “possibly one of the hardest things in my life”.
She described how she lost her baby girl, whom she named Veronica, because of a complicated labour that ended up causing severe brain damage. She has previously spoken about the experience in parliament.
“Some of the stuff in terms of the complications with the labour were around the hospital trust in the machinery that was there, and that led to a cord around her throat – which sadly meant she was severely brain damaged and not able to come back from stuff,” she said.
“It was quite possibly one of the hardest things in my life.”