As a survivor of domestic abuse, I'm standing against Tory MP Charlie Elphicke at the next general election

At the next vote, myself and four fellow Women’s Equality Party candidates, all of whom are survivors, will go up against five MPs facing unresolved allegations of sexual harassment or assault

Eljai Morais
Wednesday 09 October 2019 16:11
Comments
Tory MP Charlie Elphicke charged with sexual assault against two women

Despite the chaos and anger currently dividing our parliament and our country, I still believe that politics can be a force for change if only we are brave enough to have real vision.

So, today, I became a politician.

In many ways, this is a big leap for me. Until four years ago, I was not even a member of a political party, let alone involved in political campaigning. But in other ways, it makes perfect sense. It is a well-worn feminist approach to insist that "the personal is political". For me, that rings particularly true.

As a young girl I saw horrible domestic violence in my family, and at one brutal moment felt forced to try and intervene. The experience had a lasting effect and in my twenties, having formed my first theatre company, I raised money for my local refuge with a play about domestic abuse. With terrifying irony, while studying for my degree nine years later, I found myself becoming the characters I had written; suffering at the hands of an abusive partner who would change my life forever.

After three long years and repeated attempts to leave, the abuse culminated when he climbed onto my balcony like a twisted Romeo and attacked me and our unborn son as my 12-year-old daughter bore witness.

We left our home that night and never returned. My studies were interrupted, my daughter’s friendships ended, and we moved to a refuge in London. Not long after, my waters broke in that tiny room, where we lived with just two beds, a cot and my computer.

Like so many survivors of domestic abuse, I was doubly damned by my experiences. We suffer both the violence of abuse itself and the aftermath: the rehousing and the loss of connection to friends and family; the depression, ill-health and substance misuse; the poverty and isolation. The excruciating PTSD, which for many is enough to prevent them even voicing what they have endured.

This kind of violence destroys lives, and it is on the rise. Every single woman I know has faced a litany of harassment, cat-calling, stalking, abuse or assault. Domestic homicides are at a five year high and the number of reported rapes across the UK have doubled since 2013-14.

Despite this, conviction rates for rape are at an all-time low. Funding for refuges has been slashed. It has taken our government two whole years to debate the crucial domestic abuse bill for the first time. One in five staff members in Westminster experiences sexual harassment and yet our political parties are failing to tackle perpetrators within their own ranks.

As Labour MP Rosie Duffield so powerfully demonstrated in parliament last week, many parliamentarians know the true cost of abuse and are committed to tackling it. But institutionally, both government and parties have shown repeatedly that they do not see ending violence against women as a priority.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

In the inevitable general election, the Women’s Equality Party is standing five survivors against five MPs facing unresolved allegations of harassment or assault. My fellow candidates will stand against Mark Field, who was filmed grabbing a protester by the neck; Kelvin Hopkins, who remains under investigation for harassment four years after allegations were first made; Ivan Lewis, who resigned from his party before an investigation into harassment allegations was concluded; and Jared O’Mara, who publicly admitted harassing a twenty-year-old staff member and faced no consequences. I am standing against Charlie Elphicke, who is currently awaiting trial on three counts of sexual assault.

While our political institutions shelter men who are part of the problem, they cannot begin to provide the solutions needed to save women’s lives.

To end abuse, we have to start with Westminster.

Eljai Morais is standing as the Women's Equality Party general election candidate in Dover

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in