Scotland takes the fight against domestic abuse a big step further

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Scottish Women’s Aid has welcomed new legislation against abusive and controlling behaviour as a vital message to victims - “the law is there for you”.

Whereas existing laws dealt mainly with the threat of violence a new “gold standard” regime passed by MSPs will now target psychological abuse and coercive control.

Justice Minister Michael Matheson said that until now it has been hard to tackle abusers who use psychological intimidation and control short of actual violence.

The new system means that bullies who slipped through the legal net before because they did not hit their partners can now be dealt with if a clear pattern of abuse can be demonstrated.

Many types of unreasonable and abusive behaviour will be covered - for example preventing contact with friends or family, or preventing partners going to college or work.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, Police Scotland, said: “We recognise that domestic abuse is more than physical assaults, it’s about abusers who exert control over their victims by using a range of debilitating tactics.

“Survivors have long told us that whilst physical assaults are often part of that abuse, it is commonly the punishing psychological abuse which is more difficult to cope with.

“This new legislation is very welcome as it recognises the full extent of abuse that victims suffer and allows us to bring the full weight of the law against those who commit abuse, whatever its form.

“In preparation, Police Scotland will be training around 14,000 officers and staff on recognising coercive and controlling behaviours.

“We are committed to tackling domestic abuse and recognise that it affects parts of society and has no regard for age, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

“We encourage anyone affected by domestic abuse to report it to the police or seek support from our partners.”