Proposed laws on domestic abuse are a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to help victims, Theresa May has said in her first speech since resigning as PM.
Mrs May’s government introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill in July, but its progress was halted when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament.
The bill is now having its second reading after the Commons resumed business.
Campaigners said the bill was missing key elements to protect victims.
Speaking in the debate, Labour MP Rosie Duffield received a standing ovation after she told MPs about her own experience of domestic abuse.
She said misleading depictions appeared on TV that perpetuated stereotypes.
“Housing estates, working-class families, drunk men coming home from the pub, women surrounded by children and a sequence of shouting followed by immediate physical violence or assault,” she said.
Speaking from the backbenches for the first time since 1998, Mrs May described the bill as a “landmark piece of legislation”.
“It’s been described by government, and indeed by charities and others involved with working with the victims of domestic abuse, as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure we take a step change in the approach we take to supporting victims and to dealing with domestic abuse,” she said.
She added that it was “imperative” the bill became law, arguing it would “improve people’s lives”.
“But the soap opera scenes only tend to focus on one or two aspects of a much bigger and more complex picture.”
She said abuse was not about physical actions, adding “sometimes there are no bruises”.
“Abuse is very often all about control and power, it’s about making themselves feel big or biggest, but that’s not how abusers present themselves.”