''Any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse may be committed in the home or elsewhere including online". 
Relationship abuse is overwhelmingly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. It doesn’t matter how old someone is, what race or ethnicity they are, what class they are, whether or not they are disabled, or whether they have children – anyone can be a victim of abuse.

There is a common misconception that domestic abuse is only physical.  This is not the case. 

Controlling and coercive behaviour was criminalised by the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 and the legislation came into force on 1st April 2019. It is a course of conduct offence, where ongoing harmful and abusive actions in a relationship, which in isolation might not seem as serious, are examined together – this is about behaviour over time. 

Recognising relationship abuse:

It is not a one off – it usually happens again and again and the abusive partner will try different things to gain control. It usually gets worse over time, and for many women it can continue even after the relationship has ended.

Some of the different ways an abuser will try to control his partner include:
  • Making threats to hurt her or any children
  • Throwing objects at her which causes fear even when if they miss
  • Calling her names and making her feel bad about herself
  • Making rules about how she does things, like what she is allowed to wear
  • Stopping her from seeing, or making it hard for her to see friends and family
  • Being jealous of the time she spends with others or doing things without him
  • Phoning or texting her all the time and/or expecting her to reply to them as soon as they have contacted her
  • Checking her phone and social media accounts
  • Hitting her
  • Putting pressure on her to have sex
  • Being nice to her, buying her gifts and making promises about what they will do together
  • Telling her she’s a bad mum and telling the children not to do what she says


 Video by Scottish Women's Aid 
Hidden in Plain Sight - Coercive control and Domestic abuse


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