Domestic abuse happens in relationships because one person wants to control the other. They can use physical, emotional, sexual or psychological tactics to do this.
Some examples are being slapped, punched or kicked, shouted at, ignored, threatened, making you do sex acts that you don’t want to (including looking at pornography), making you account for every penny you spend, stopping you using contraception, ruining your possessions or not letting you see family or friends. It doesn’t need to be physical or involve injury – many women never get physically hurt but can experience years of emotional trauma.
The relationship can be still going on, or may have ended some time ago. You don’t need to be married, or living with the abuser, or ever have lived with them – it is called domestic abuse because it happens within an intimate relationship.
It is NEVER your fault. The abuser chooses to do this. They do not do it because they are drunk, or have mental health problems, or have anger management issues – they do it because it gets them what they want, or because they believe they are entitled to act that way.
Living with the situation can cause long term health problems, such as anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, stomach problems or sexual health problems. You might have injuries such as broken bones, broken teeth, bruises, cuts, etc. You might become pregnant when you don’t want to. You might start drinking, or drink more, or use drugs to ‘escape’ or numb the pain. These can all potentially cause problems for you in the long run.
Who does it happen to?
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone who has been/is in an intimate relationship - it is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what your culture or religion is. The research shows that it’s mostly women who are abused by a male partner or ex-partner, but it can happen to men or in same sex relationships too. The Scottish Government estimates that 1 in 4 women will experience abuse at some time in their lives.
Children get affected by domestic abuse too – they hear and see it, and sometimes try to intervene to stop the abuse. Some abusers use the children as part of the abuse, by actually getting them to kick their mother or call her names or say she is stupid or useless. He may also threaten to take the children away or to hurt the kids if she doesn’t do what he says. Children can also be injured, or feel depressed and anxious. They may try to stay home from school to keep an eye on their mother. Children are safest with the non-abusing parent. Women’s Aid tell us that when children and young people come into refuge with their mother and are safe from the abuse, they bounce back and don’t necessarily suffer any long term impact. It is a myth that all boys who live in abusive households go on to abuse when they grow up. Abusers choose to abuse.
Who can help you?
Domestic Abuse involves a range of behaviours some of which are classed as crimes. However, a lot of women don’t report it because they are not sure, or are afraid the abuser might punish or threaten them for contacting the Police. If you contact the Police, officers will gather evidence and make a report to the Procurator Fiscal at the Court. Dedicated staff from the Police’s Domestic Abuse Unit will contact you to offer help and support.
If you choose not to report the abuse to the Police, there are still lots of services that can help and support you. See the list below. You do not have to be leaving to get help – the staff will not judge you or tell you to leave. They understand how complex domestic abuse can be. For some, the most dangerous time is when they try to leave, because the abuser has lost control of the situation. Another dangerous time can be if a woman is pregnant. Services can speak to you to find out what has been happening and will work with you to find out what you want to do. They can help by just listening, or safety plan with you to suggest ways to protect yourself and your children. They can help you get legal protection. The abuser doesn’t have to be convicted before you can apply for an Interdict or Protection From Abuse Order – these legal orders can make him stay away from you or he may be arrested. And if you want to leave – the staff can help you prepare and go when you are ready.
If you need to get away in an emergency, there are services that can help you with temporary accommodation. If you are leaving an abusive situation, the local authority will take into account your situation and help you find alternative housing. You do not need to have children or to prove your situation.
Remember – it is not your fault you are being abused. Abusers choose to abuse and use many excuses for their behaviour. But you can be supported to do what you feel is right for you.
If you are abusing your partner
You are responsible for your own behaviour and only you can choose to stop this behaviour. At the moment most perpetrator programmes are for those who have been convicted of crimes relating to domestic abuse. However, the government is looking at voluntary programmes for the future. You can look at the following for information :
A helpline is available for you to speak to someone about your abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner. Respect Helpline 0845 122 8609.
Or contact Social Work or your GP and ask for a referral to counselling to speak to someone about respectful relationships.
- Strathclyde Police – you can dial 999 or North Lanarkshire Domestic Abuse Unit on 01355 564069 and South Lanarkshire Domestic Abuse Unit on 01355 564069.
- Scottish Women’s Aid – www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk. Women’s Aid provide services for women and children – they include refuge, support services, children’s services. There are 48 affiliated groups – and 3 are in the Lanarkshire area – Motherwell, Monklands and South Lanarkshire. There is another group in Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Women’s Aid in the Cumbernauld/Kilsyth area, who aren’t currently linked to the SWA network, but provide refuge and support.
- Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 027 1234 (24 hour, confidential, free from landlines – mobile costs may vary) www.domesticabuse.co.uk
- EVA Services, based in NHS Lanarkshire offers services to women living in Lanarkshire. Ask a health professional to contact us on your behalf.
EVA Services Website: http://www.nhslanarkshire.co.uk/Services/EVA%20Services/Pages/default.aspx EVA can help and support you if you are a woman experiencing abuse, and also have specialist advocacy, counselling and psychology services for women who have experienced trauma at any time in their lives.
- For men experiencing abuse from their partner – Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327.
- For LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse – Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428, www.broken-rainbow.org.uk
You can also speak to NHS Lanarkshire health staff such as GPs, health visitors, maternity staff – they have had training to understand what you are going through and can help link you to specialist help organisations.