Domestic abuse takes a number of different forms – it can be physical, emotional or sexual. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, it’s a myth that only women are the victims of domestic abuse, although it is true women are more commonly abused than men. One in five women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.
What can be done?
The law is there to protect everyone in the case of domestic abuse, it is a criminal offence, as is rape or sexual assault and threats. There is protection available in both criminal and civil law – in civil law you can apply to the courts for an interdict, which means that your partner will be unable to do anything which is put down in an order, such as come within a certain distance of you or your house. You may be able to apply for an exclusion order, which means your partner has to leave your home, but you and your children can stay.
A solicitor can let you know if you could apply for these things – if you're female then you can go to the Scottish Women's Aid website to find your local Woman’s Aid group, where you can be directed to sympathetic solicitors.
Because domestic abuse is a criminal offence, if you call the police your partner may be arrested. If your partner is charged and bail is granted, often the courts will limit where they can go.
If you are being or have been abused
If you are being abused don’t be afraid to call 999 - the police take incidents of domestic abuse very seriously. However, we know it’s not always as simple as that and many people are too worried to phone the police.
Alternatively you can contact the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 (free confidential service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
The Domestic Abuse website is also a really good source of information and guidance giving you the answers to a lot of questions you will inevitably be worried about, such as what will happen to your children or where you can go if you feel threatened. Every precaution has been taken to protect your privacy on the website – it gives instructions when you visit the site on how to cover your tracks.
Scottish Women’s Aid is the main organisation which provides support and safe refuge to women who have been the victim of domestic abuse. For more information go to the Scottish Women's Aid website.
The Men's Advice Line is a confidential helpline for all men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. This includes all men - in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Call 0808 801 0327 Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm.
Health in Mind Trauma Counselling Line is a free confidential counselling service for male survivors of childhood abuse. This service is for over 16 year olds who have suffered physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or spiritual abuse or neglect. The qualified and experienced counsellors are available Monday to Wednesday 5pm to 8pm, Thursday and Friday 9 am to 2pm. To arrange your appointment call 08088 020406 during these hours.
The Ethnic Survivors Forum is a support service for survivors of childhood sexual abuse from ethnic minority communities. You can call their free helpline on 0808 80 22 222 to speak to advisors who will listen to you and be able to direct you to any local support services. You can read the website in Urdu, Punjabi, Swahili, Arabic, Hindi, French, Cantonese and Polish.