No one deserves to live with abuse.
Domestic Abuse FAQs
Who can experience domestic abuse?
- Anyone can experience domestic abuse. It affects people regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, sexuality or wealth. Most commonly domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against women, but men can also be victims of domestic abuse and it can happen in same sex relationships too. There is no ‘typical’ victim of domestic abuse, it can happen at any time in a person’s life no matter what their background, beliefs or circumstances are. One in five women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
What causes domestic abuse?
- There is no single cause of domestic abuse. Some people may blame domestic abuse on a variety of factors such as alcohol, drugs, mental health. While these factors may make domestic abuse worse or more likely, they are not the root cause. Domestic abuse is the result of the abuser’s desire for power and control. It is a matter of choice for perpetrators and is never the victim’s fault.
Will my partner change?
- It is rare for an abuser to change, and research shows that domestic abuse often gets worse over time. If an abuser is serious about changing they must fully accept responsibility for their actions and acknowledge that their abusive behaviour is unacceptable. Perpetrators of domestic abuse can seek advice from Respect if they need help to stop violent or abusive behaviour.
Who can I talk to about domestic abuse?
- It might help to talk to someone that you trust like a friend or family member or a professional such as your GP or health visitor. Experiencing domestic abuse can often make people feel isolated and ashamed, but you are not alone and support is available if you ever need it. You can call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (referred to as ‘the Helpline’ throughout) any time of day or night, we’re here to listen, support and help you. You can also contact your local Women’s Aid group; you can find the closest group on the Scottish Women’s Aid website: http://www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk/advice-information
How can I keep myself safe?
- Making a personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. You can call the Helpline to talk to someone about your options; it is good to think about how to increase your safety both while you are living with your abusive partner and if you decide to leave. Here are some things it might be useful to think about:
- Tell someone – telling someone you trust about the abuse might help your situation. Perhaps they can call to check you are OK, or you could agree a code-word to use when you need help
- Be prepared for an emergency – try to memorise a list of emergency numbers of services or friends who can help you. Keep a set of keys and a small amount of money in a safe place or next to your bed in case you need to leave in a hurry. Think about escape routes and talk to family or friends about staying with them in an emergency, perhaps ask them to keep important documents and a bag of supplies for you, so that you can leave quickly if you need to
- Stay safe after you have left – if you have left your partner but you are still living in the same area you might increase your safety by changing your routines and avoiding places that you went with your partner or carrying a personal alarm when you are out of the house. Think about talking to your employer and your children’s school or nursery about what has happened. If you have moved away you might want to change your phone number, as well as the passwords for your email, online banking and social media accounts. Be careful when sending digital pictures or posting online so that you don’t reveal your location
- Make your home secure – if your partner has moved out of your property change locks on all the doors and put locks on windows – you can ask the Police for advice about making your home more secure. You might also want to install an outside light which comes on automatically when someone approaches. Talk to your neighbours about what has happened and ask them to tell you, or call the police if they see him nearby.
What legal help is available?
- The civil law in Scotland has specific orders you can apply for to protect you from an abusive partner or ex-partner. If you choose to take legal action to get a civil order, your solicitor will need evidence to present to the court to support your case. There are several civil orders which can help to keep you safe from your abuser, these include:
- Exclusion Order – this allows you to remove, and prevent, an abusive partner from living in your home. You can apply for an exclusion order if you have occupancy rights (that is, if you are married or a civil partner, or if you are living with your partner and your name is on the rent/mortgage agreement)
- Interdict – this is a court order that stops your partner from carrying out certain actions or going to certain places. An interdict can be used to keep an abuser away from you and any children you have. You should ask your solicitor to make sure to get a “power of arrest” attached to the interdict and also “determine” that it is a domestic abuse interdict – this will give you better protection, and it means that your abuser can be arrested if they breach the order
- Non-harassment order – this is another order that can be used against anyone who is behaving in a way that frightens you or causes you distress. It orders your abuser not to commit certain actions, for example following you, repeatedly emailing, phoning or texting you. Breach of a non-harassment order is a criminal offence, and your partner can be arrested if he does this.
What is a refuge?
- Refuge is safe and secure accommodation for victims of domestic abuse. Staff in refuges will provide you with practical and emotional support, they will understand what you have been through and will help you move on from domestic abuse. None of the workers will tell anyone that you are staying with them. Some refuges are shared and some are self-contained. You may have to share the living room and kitchen, but will always have your own bedroom. You can take your children with you into refuge.
Do children and young people experience domestic abuse? / What support is there for children and young people experiencing DA?
- Children and young people can experience domestic abuse in many different ways. They often witness abuse that happening in their home; they might hear shouting and hitting, or see their mum upset or injured. Often children are nearby when domestic abuse is taking place and in some cases they are also hurt by the abuser directly. Domestic abuse can be very traumatic for children and young people; it can impact on their health, behaviour, education and the development of relationships. 100,000 children in Scotland experience domestic abuse
- ChildLine provides help and support for children and young people. It’s a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of 19. Most local Women’s Aid groups can also provide specialist support for children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse, to find out more contact your local group or the Helpline.
How can I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic abuse?
- If someone has trusted in you and told you about abuse that they are experiencing, this is a positive first step. Your first instinct may be to want to protect your friend or family member, but intervening can be dangerous for both you and them. There are some things you can do to help them and any children safer:
- Listen – listen and believe what they tell you. Too often people do not believe someone when they first disclose abuse
- Be there for them – keep lines of communication open at all times and let the person know that you are always there for them when they need you
- Don’t judge – it can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive relationship, and the decision to do so has to come from them. Try to support them to make their own choices, rather than telling them what to do
- Reassure – reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that they do not deserve to be treated like this
- Get support – find out about what help is available to your friend or family member. Make sure they have access to emergency phone numbers, let them know they can contact the Helpline at any time
- Plan – talk to your friend about what they might do in an emergency. You might be able to help them by agreeing a code-word they could use if they ever need help, or keep copies of important documents, keys or a bag of supplies at your home in case they ever need to leave in a hurry
- Report – if you ever witness an assault you can call the police on 999.
Other people who can help:
Charity number SC001099 and a company limited by guarantee, registered company number SC128433.
© Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline.