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Today my campaign to reform the way family courts treat survivors of domestic abuse has made it to the front page of The Guardian. I really hope this will help the campaign deliver desperately needed reform.

Back in September I co-sponsored a Commons debate on domestic abuse. For me it was the chance to talk on the record about the journey I had been on since becoming an MP where I now meet, support, and listen to many people who have endured unimaginable horror within their own home. It is mostly, but not always, women that I have met and who have suffered.

There was one aspect of the abuse they have suffered that surprised me the most and that was their treatment in family courts.

In criminal court people convicted of a crime, or even in most cases accused of a serious crime, cannot represent themselves and cross examine their victims. This is for very obvious reasons. But in the family courts they can and it is an unvarnished, unrelenting nightmare for all those who have to suffer it.

Habitual and convicted abusers know this and have started using the courts to continue the abuse. Let me give you an extreme example. I have met a family who's daughter / sister was beaten, abused, and finally murdered by her partner and yet from prison, from where he is serving a life sentence, he sued for custody of the daughter he also tried to murder. Why? Because he knew by doing so he could continue to inflict suffering. In this case he chose to represent himself, and under the nose of the judge and police, the very people and institutions here to protect us, he questioned the mother and sister of the person he had beaten to death.

I have now met too many women who have gone through this and if it's painful for me to hear the stories and meet those who suffer just imagine what it's like to go through it. The consequences for profound for those who go through it - breakdowns, medication, and a life that needs rebuilding all over again.

And what's worse, due to the almost total cuts to legal aid, more and more abuse survivors have no choice but to defend themselves without any representation at all.

I am angry to the point of fury about this. And, as I said in my speech, I am ashamed that I've got to this age before knowing this was happening within our own legal system.

After my speech I started working with a wonderful Guardian journalist who I introduced to some of the women I had met or turned to me for help at one point in their pathway out of an abusive relationship. The journalist, Sandra Leville, invested so much time into understanding the issue that she even came to Hove for a series of discussions.

I have posted a link to the article here, please read it when you have time (I know everyone's busy at this time!) and let me know what you think.

I'm not going to stop until family courts are reformed to give more rights to victims. Just meeting one victim was enough to shock me into action yet I have now met so very many. I've invited survivors to the Commons for discrete discussions with MP's so more can find out about this horror, I've taken legal advice, I'm working with the media to raise the profile of this terrible situation, and I've visited Rise, our local refuge that support all survivors of abuse and specialises in LGBT abuse issue too.

But most of all I give my word that I will not relent until reform is delivered. Yours, Peter

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/22/revealed-how-family-courts-allow-abusers-to-torment-their-victims?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Abuse of Women through the Family Court

Today my campaign to reform the way family courts treat survivors of domestic abuse has made it to the front page of The Guardian. I really hope this will help...

In recent days I've been getting up early and going to thank some of the people who work so hard behind the scenes to make Christmas special for us.

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I've been to the Royal Mail sorting office in Hove which was a frenzy of activity. Vast quantities of cards and parcels. I got to thank the person who delivers mail to my office, and help load some parcels into vans for delivery.

I also visited the big Sainsbury's and the people responsible for keeping shelves stacked and delivering the Internet food orders. I must admit that it was a shock to me at just how big an operation it is to get deliveries picked and delivered. Once the store closes for customers teams move in and work through the night to pick internet orders from the shelves, sort them in a massive area at the back of the store, and prepare it for delivery in the morning.

I wanted to meet the people who work to make Christmas a more enjoyable experience for us and to learn about their work which is mostly hidden from view. But mostly I just wanted to tell as many of them as possible that the huge amount of hard work they put in at this time of year is appreciated by us all.

I really hope you're preparations for Christmas are going well. All the best, Peter

Meeting The People Who Make Christmas Happen

In recent days I've been getting up early and going to thank some of the people who work so hard behind the scenes to make Christmas special for us.

I hate that we live in a society where some of us need to use food banks. But I love the humanity of those who make them happen week after week in order that people and families get the nutrition they need until we do the right thing and end food poverty once and for all.

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Food is such an important part of Christmas and those unable to lay on the full festive feast can feel excluded from the holiday season and in some cases feel they have let their families down. They haven't of course, it's the people running our economy who have let them down. But for too many people foodbanks are the difference between hunger and good health.

Anne, the driving force along with all the amazing volunteers at the Portslade Foodbank, do an utterly remarkable job. I've dropped in several times now to thank volunteers and listen to people who come to use their service and I just visited their special Christmas meal.

Despite the sadness that underlies the need for a foodbank, the volunteers made it a place of joy. The stories told me by their customers were painful to hear, but one thing is for sure - this is a great and vital service for them.

I recently spent time at a food collection point, and now I've once again seen how donations are put to good use. One day I hope to visit FairShare who manage and distribute the donations and thank their staff and volunteers too.

I was left with very powerful stories and emotions from this visit and I'll be doing all I can in the new year to keep food poverty on our agenda even though there will be many destructions with Brexit and Trump we must never forget what is happening to people who all too often lack the voice they need to be heard. All the best, Peter

Food Banks at Christmas

I hate that we live in a society where some of us need to use food banks. But I love the humanity of those who make them happen week after...

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