Domestic abuse is emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner. It is characterised by a pattern of controlling behaviour which escalates in frequency and severity over time.
Although both men and women can experience domestic abuse, research shows that it is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. The Scottish Government estimates that one in five women in Scotland experiences domestic abuse at some stage in her life.
Any woman can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. Domestic abuse can also take place in LGBT relationships.
In East Ayrshire there were 1,413 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police in 2012/13.
What is domestic abuse?
All forms of domestic abuse come from the abuser's desire for power and control. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved.
These can include physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.
Sexual abuse can include using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts or having sex with you when you don't want to.
Most domestic abuse includes emotional abuse, which can include:
- destructive criticism: name calling, accusing and threatening
- pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions
- disrespect: lying to you, or to your friends and family about you, persistently putting you down in front of other people, never listening or responding when you talk
- isolation: preventing you from seeing friends and family, monitoring your phone calls, emails, texts and letters, checking up on you, following you, not letting you go out alone
- threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children
- denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, saying it will never happen again
The impact of emotional abuse may be even more devastating than physical assault - and have much longer term effects.
What can I do?
If you or someone you are know is experiencing domestic abuse:
Stay safe: if this is happening to you, you do not have to put up with it. You are not to blame for the violence or abuse, although your partner may say that you are. No one deserves to be abused. If you are being abused you have choices. You may want to talk over your options with someone you trust or one of the organisations listed below.
Look after yourself: whether you decide to end the relationship with your partner or not, it is important to look after your physical and mental health and to think about how to protect you and your children from harm.
Call for help: if you need help contact one of the organisations listed below, the police Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer or your local social work department.
Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland
From Tuesday 25 November 2014, Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse, also known as ‘Clare’s Law’, is being trialled for six months in Ayrshire.
The aim of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse is to give members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.
If police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive behaviour; or there is other information to indicate the person you know is at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim.
The police will discuss your concerns with you and decide whether it is appropriate for you to be given more information to help protect the person who is in the relationship with the individual you are concerned about.The scheme aims to enable potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship, and provides further help and support to assist the potential victim when making that informed choice.
Download information on using the scheme if you are concerned that someone you know may be in a relationship and is at risk of domestic abuse
Download information on using the scheme if you are in a relationship and are worried that your partner may have been abusive in the past
What help is there?
Contact us on the details below or get in touch with one of the following organisations:
Scottish Domestic abuse helpline
0800 027 1234 - open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
East Ayrshire Women's Aid
999 - for emergencies
101 - for non-emergencies
Men's Advice Line
0808 801 0327 (10am-1pm and 2-5pm Monday to Friday)
Advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse
0808 802 4040
A confidential helpline for domestic abuse perpetrators