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National domestic abuse helpline

Freephone: 0808 2000 247 (24 hour)

Domestic abuse

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 where the perpetrator can be of any gender and can also harm children and young people who experience it or are affected by it within the family home.

Research shows that women are more likely to experience domestic abuse than men and to suffer more serious injury and ongoing assaults than men. However, it should be acknowledged that men can experience domestic abuse from their female partner and that domestic abuse also occurs in same-sex relationships.  The Scottish Government estimates that one in five women in Scotland experiences domestic abuse at some stage in her life. 

In 2018/19, the number of recorded domestic abuse incidents by the police in East Ayrshire was 1,468 against a national figure of 60,641. This is an increase on 2017/18 where the number recorded was 1,405, 59,541 nationally and a decrease since 2015/16 with 1,535 recorded in East Ayrshire and 58,104 nationally ( Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2018-19).

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.  The impact of emotional abuse may be even more devastating than physical assault - and have much longer term effects.  

Sexual abuse can include contact and non-contact activities such as using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want to or encouraging you to behave in a sexually inappropriate way.  Sexual abuse can take place online and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse.

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, take the children away, threaten suicide, 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 know is experiencing domestic abuse:

Stay safe

If this is happening to you, you do not have to put up with it. No one deserves to be abused. If you are being abused you have choices and you can 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 service. We can help you access emergency accommodation provided by us or a refuge. If you need permanent re-housing we can help you with your housing options.

What we will do

We will raise awareness and encourage the reporting of domestic abuse through training, campaigns and promotion through our communication channels. We make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available in a number of formats to ensure accessibility to all.  We will make new Council tenants aware of our policies and the implications of joint tenancies.

We support campaigns against all types of domestic abuse and broader gender based violence, including affiliation to the White Ribbon Scotland campaign which aims to involve men in tackling violence against women.  Eliminating gender violence is the aim of ‘16 Days of Action’, an international campaign which runs from 25 November until 10 December.

Where domestic abuse occurs in a Council tenancy, we are committed to support survivors/victims and their dependants to remain in their own home or provide support to move home.

We will fully exhaust available legislation when rehousing perpetrators of domestic abuse.

We can provide victims of domestic abuse with alarms in the home to be used whenever they feel threatened via referral through Women’s Aid or Police Scotland. 

We will work with Community Planning Partners and other agencies to ensure robust action is taken to address incidents of domestic abuse and hold perpetrators to account.

Domestic abuse policy and statement

Disclosure scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland

The aim of Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse, also known as ‘Clare’s Law’, 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.

Someone you know

Download information on using the scheme (PDF 107Kb) if you are concerned that someone you know may be in a relationship and is at risk of domestic abuse.

In a relationship

Download information on using the scheme (PDF 109Kb) if you are in a relationship and are worried that your partner may have been abusive in the past

Help and advice

There are a number of organisations that can offer further advice and practical guidance on domestic abuse or gender-based violence and related issues. Details can be found on our Violence Against Women Partnership page or the following services can help:

Local services
ServiceContact details
East Ayrshire Women’s Aid Kilmarnock Telephone: 01563 536001
Cumnock Telephone: 01290 423434
North Ayrshire Women’s Aid Telephone: 01294 602424
South Ayrshire Women’s Aid Telephone: 01292 266482
Police Domestic Abuse Unit

Telephone: 01563 505076
Telephone: 01563 505173

Break the Silence (Rape and Sexual Abuse)

Telephone: 01563 559558

Citizens Advice Bureau

Telephone: 01563 544744

The Star Centre

Telephone: 01563 544686

Victim Support

Kilmarnock Office Telephone: 01563 540252

Ayr Office Telephone: 01292 266411

Irvine Office Telephone: 01294 277040

Scottish Helpline Telephone: 0345 603 9213

National services

ServiceContact details


Support for men who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.

Telephone: 0808 800 0024 (9am to 4pm, weekdays)



Black Association of Women Step Out Website:

Support for people experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland who identify as a man, including trans men, anyone from the LGBT+ community including, but not limited to, lesbian/bisexual women, gay/bisexual men, trans men/women, and gender non-binary people).

Telephone: 0131 624 7266

Homeless Helpline-Shelter Scotland

Telephone: 0808 800 4444

Men’s Services

Men’s Advice Line
Telephone: 0808 801 0327

Mankind Initiative

Telephone: 01823 334 244

National LGBT + Domestic Abuse Helpline (Galop) Telephone: 0800 999 5428
Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline

Telephone: 08088 01 03 02

You can phone the free helpline any day between 6pm and midnight or if you are deaf or hard of hearing on minicom number: 0141 353 3091

Refuge Website:   
Rights of Women Telephone: 020 7251 6577
Scottish Women’s Aid Website:

Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline

Telephone: 0800 027 1234
Support line telephone: 0800 027 1234
Samaritans 116 123 (free to call from any phone)
White Ribbon Scotland Website:
24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline

Telephone: 0808 2000 247 (Freephone)

A service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. It is run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. Callers may first of all hear an answer phone message before speaking to a person.


Contact Information

Health and Social Care Partnership
The Johnnie Walker Bond
15 Strand Street
Telephone: 01563 554200
Social Work: Ayrshire Urgent Care Service
Note: The Emergency Out Of Hours Social Work Service is available after 5pm until 9am, Monday to Thursday and after 4pm on Friday until 9am on Monday (throughout the weekend). It is also available during public holidays. You will be put through to the Ayrshire Social Work out of Hours Response Service. A qualified Social Worker will assess the circumstances referred.
Social Services (Cumnock)
Rothesay House
1 Greenholm Road
East Ayrshire
KA18 1LH
Telephone: 01290 427720
Social Services (Dalmellington)
33 Main Street
East Ayrshire
Telephone: 01292 552900
Social Services (Kilmarnock)
The Johnnie Walker Bond
15 Strand Street
East Ayrshire
Telephone: 01563 554200
Housing Options
Opera House
8 John Finnie Street
Telephone: 01563 554400