Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse and the law

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 was introduced to make all domestic abuse towards a partner or ex-partner whether psychological or physical, a criminal offence. It defines domestic abuse as “a course of behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner intended to cause them physical or psychological harm, or where the perpetrator is reckless as to whether it causes harm.”

Previous to this Act, only physical abuse could be prosecuted as a criminal offence. However, many victim-survivors of domestic abuse may not experience physical abuse, but are subject to coercive control, and degrading treatment. Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour that seeks to take away the victim-survivor’s liberty or freedom, and strip away their sense of self. Within coercive control, violence is often used alongside a range of other tactics including isolation, degradation, economic abuse and the micromanagement of everyday life. This may include monitoring movements, phone calls, finances, dress, social activity and other relationships. The perpetrator creates a world in which the victim-survivor is constantly monitored, criticised and intimidated.

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