What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse (as gender-based abuse) can be perpetrated by partners or ex-partners and can include physical abuse (assault and physical attack involving a range of behaviour), sexual abuse (acts which degrade and humiliate women and are perpetrated against their will, including rape) and mental and emotional abuse (such as threats, verbal abuse, racial abuse, withholding money and other types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family or friends) – Scottish Government Definition

Anyone can be a victim of abuse regardless of how old someone is, what race or ethnicity they are, what class they are, whether or not they are disabled, or whether they have children. Often when people think of domestic abuse they think of physical violence, but domestic abuse is very often so much more than that. For many women who live with domestic abuse there will be no scars, bruises or broken bones, but for some it can take their life. No one kind of abuse is more serious than any other.

Does your partner do any of these things to you?

  • Hit, push or shove you
  • Put you down in front of others
  • Call you names and criticise you all the time
  • Isolate you from your family and friends
  • Constantly keep you short of money, making you reliant on him/her financially
  • Make you do things that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Use the children against you
  • Control and threaten you
  • Deny the abuse and blame you for causing it

What is Coercive Control

Coercive control is a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action. Coercive control has been likened to being taken hostage where the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.

Controlling and coercive behaviour was criminalised by the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 and the legislation came into force on 1st April 2019. It is a course of conduct offence, where ongoing harmful and abusive actions in a relationship, which in isolation might not seem as serious, are examined together – this is about joining the dots to build a bigger picture of behaviour over time.

It reflects the lived experiences of women, children and young people by bridging the gap in addressing controlling behaviours not covered by existing offences and crimes.

This legislation is also the first to put children, now identified as potential victims, on the face of the law in the form of an aggravation that will allow the judiciary to impose harsher sentences when children are involved.

Domestic abuse is not just about being hit. There are different types of abuse that can happen in the home.

Some examples of domestic abuse that may affect you are:

Domestic abuse is NEVER the victims fault.

Workers will listen to you and support you to make the decisions that are right for you and your children (if you have any). We will respect your choices.