Scotland's new Domestic Abuse Act. What does it mean for victims?
Stay Brave welcomes a new law has come into force in Scotland that makes psychological domestic abuse and controlling behaviour a crime.
It covers the full breadth of violent, threatening, intimidating and other controlling behaviour which can destroy a victim’s autonomy and further recognises the adverse impact domestic abuse can have on children.
Until the new legislation, the law in Scotland only provided for prosecution of the physical aspects of domestic abuse. Law enforcement officials say the new law makes it clear that coercive and controlling behaviour is a crime.
The Scottish Parliament passed the Domestic Abuse Act in February last year. The new law will be supported by a Scottish government awareness campaign aimed at improving public understanding of the wide-ranging nature of the problem.
The Scottish government’s justice secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“The Domestic Abuse Act makes absolutely clear that coercive and controlling behaviour is domestic abuse and a crime. I am proud Scotland is leading the way with this groundbreaking legislation, which uniquely recognises the effect of domestic abuse on child victims as well as adults,”
Stay Brave believes that the new law will help bring more cases of abuse and violence to the police's attention and have a positive affect on the prosecution process.
Alexander Morgan, our Chief Executive, has this to say about Scotland's new law;
"Abuse can come in many forms, emotional and physical, and until now there hasn't been much in place to prosecute for the trauma emotional abuse and coercive control a partner could inflict. We welcome this new law as it helps all victims; men, women, LGBTQ and non-binary communities, rebuild faith in the system when coming forward."
So, under the new law, what counts as abusive behaviour?
Behaviour that is violent, threatening or intimidating
Behaviour whose purpose is one of the following:
making a partner dependent or subordinate
isolating a partner from friends, relatives or other sources of support
controlling, regulating or monitoring a partner's day-to-day activities
depriving a partner of, or restricting, freedom of action
frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a partner.
The offence is aggravated if any of the behaviour is directed at a child or witnessed by them.
The act also requires courts to consider imposing a non-harassment order on an offender convicted of a domestic abuse offence to protect their victim from further abuse.
The law does have its critics, stating that it would be hard to gather or rely on evidence based on the perceptions of the abused.
However, this law will take into account more types of evidence, texts, receipts, financial abuse, and friends stories, all kinds of things that will help provide evidence of what life is like for the victim that it was harder to take into account before.
This new law, with the inclusion of emotional abuse and coercive control, will be a clear warning to abusers that all forms of abuse are criminal and perpetrators should expect to face the full consequences of their behaviour.
National Helplines you can call
England: 0808 2000 247
Northern Ireland: 0808 802 1414
Scotland: 0800 027 1234
Wales: 0808 8010 800
Whole UK: 01823 334244
Wales/Cymru: 0808 801 0321
England, Wales & Scotland: 0800 999 5428