Emotional Abuse Under The 2018 Domestic Abuse Act- Part 3
Words matter. Definitions matter. Zero Tolerance, a Scottish charity working to “end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality”, demands that we no longer frame domestic abuse as just a family matter.
When talking about domestic abuse, don´t say “domestic violence”. The Zero-Tolerance policy guidelines explain that domestic abuse is not only physical. Using the term “domestic” reduces the crime to something private or as a family matter. Children don´t “witness” abuse, they are “exposed” or “impacted by” it. Don´t say “victim”, unless the person identifies by this term, but say “survivor”. Use “abusive partner” instead of “abusive relationship”. This places the blame on the partner instead of the relationship.
“Coercive control” is a term used to describe abusive behaviour. It can take the form of psychological, financial or emotional abuse, including constantly criticising a woman, undermining her self-esteem, isolating her from her friends and family and other support networks and restricting her right to wear what she wants, see who she wants and enjoy leisure time as she pleases”. Zero Tolerance´s organisation offers good advice but restricts abuse to women only. Women can be abusers too.
Luckily, there is help for everyone, whatever your age, sex, race, or sexual orientation. In Scotland, there are a few main diverse charities you can contact.
All these charities explain domestic abuse and give other contact organisations on their websites, to be sure you find the help that is adapted to your needs. Of course, there is more help and support available, according to you and your family’s needs. These are the ones recommended by the Scottish Government.
These include ScotsWomensAid, SDAFMH (Scotland´s Domestic abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline), Scottish Women´s Rights Centre, Shakti Women´s Aid, Hemat Gryffe Women´s Aid, National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline, AMIS (Abused Men in Scotland), and Victim Support Scotland.
Scottish Women´s Aid is the leading Scottish organisation for tackling domestic abuse since 1976. They work not only with the victims/survivors and their families but also are in direct correspondence with the police, prosecutors and politicians in Scotland. On their website, they explain abuse, safety tips, victims’ rights, and so forth. Training events to support women and children are also available.
Women´s Aid have a Survivor´s Handbook available online, providing information to women about housing, money, children, and legal rights. In it, they explain that they use
the term “survivor” because it emphasises an active, resourceful and creative response to the abuse, in contrast to “victim”, which implies passive acceptance.
Scotland´s Domestic abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (SDAFMH) is a helpline trained by ScotsWomensAid, working in partnership with the Men’s Advice Line. They have been awarded the Helpline Standard, a nationally recognised quality standard. The workers provide help for domestic abuse and forced marriage. Refuge is offered for anyone who needs it, anonymously, and you can bring your children. Their website is accessible in seven different languages, and you can call 24/7.
Victim Support Scotland is the leading charity helping people affected by crime across Scotland, providing help for anyone: victims, witnesses and family. Their website has a live chat which appears immediately, so you don´t have to browse too long before getting information.
Gryffe Women’s, founded in 1981, was the first Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Women’s Aid Group in Scotland. They provide refuge accommodation and have funding from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.
Scottish Women´s Rights Centre (SWRC) is a collaboration between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic and JustRight Scotland. Legal representation is offered for women aged 16 and over, affected by gender violence.
“Sometimes, women do not realise that they are abused”. Shakti Women´s Aid understand that often abusers will make the victims believe it´s their fault. Victims will often hide it because they are ashamed and/or scared. On their website, there is a purple bar that says: “click this bar to leave this site quickly”. If you click, you are redirected to a blank Google page. This helps victims search for advice, whilst avoiding their abusers finding out.
Shakti Women´s Aid help BAME women (Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities), children and young people experiencing domestic abuse. The organisation work with the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, NHS Scotland, and other statutory and voluntary services. They provide training and consulting, whilst hosting different events to tackle issues affecting BME women. Their inclusion is already noticeable through their website, which is in nine different languages. Nonetheless, their organisation states “All women have the right to live without abuse”, which is not inclusive for men and LGBTQI+ community.
Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) was created in 2010 by men and women, to raise awareness for male domestic abuse. Their goal is to encourage a more gender-inclusive approach. There is the stereotype that women are the only victims of abuse, which might minimise what men victims of abuse are going through. This initiative is important, in order to treat every victim equally, and provide the necessary support.
Finally, there is National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline: Galop. This 30-year-old charity provides advice around the issues of LGBT+ and can speak up for you. They can help with shelter, speaking with the police, and come up with a safe exit. The charity is not Scotland exclusive, but it is important that there is help for everybody.
“The demand on our helplines outstrips our capacity to respond so often women do not get through”. SWRC, a feminist organisation who wants to make a difference, can´t respond to everyone. They are only able to take on cases for representation that they have the resources and capacities to accept. Unfortunately, demand is higher than what they can meet.
Victims who access the SWRC´s helplines can remain anonymous, but this is harder if they need advice or representation. SWRC even launched the FollowIt app, an incident recording app for women survivors of Stalking.
The organisation offers daily legal helplines, a weekly advocacy helpline, and legal advice surgeries across Scotland. Their solicitors are required to have practising certificates and are guided by the Law Society of Scotland. Advocacy Workers have an annual training budget and volunteers undertake training at USLC and receive in-house training at SWRC,
under the supervision of solicitors. The exact content of the training wasn´t specified. Solicitors and volunteers are to follow polices of JustRight Scotland; staff employed by Rape Crisis Scotland follow organisational policies.
“The SWRC is a legal and advocacy service rather than a support service”. SWRC will work with the women they are representing for the duration of their case, but it varies according to the personal situations.
If a victim/survivor doesn´t want to seek help through these organisations, there is a myriad of other help centres and charities available. If you search for help on the internet, you will hopefully find something appropriate to your situation.
Otherwise, you can directly resort to Police Scotland, COFPS, the Scottish Government, and many more. The NHS gives advice on how to get help if abuse happens, and it also says who to contact (respectphoneline.org.uk) if you think you are abusive, which is rare. On each domestic abuse website, a definition of domestic abuse under the 2018 Act is provided, such as useful links.
Health Scotland provides a guide to help health workers to work with the victims of gender- based violence, giving concrete measures such as how to identify and respond to domestic abuse, child protection and domestic abuse, working with perpetrators. It mentions the new Act and specifies that health workers must write down what kind of abuse the victim/survivor suffered from.
Health Scotland´s protocol specifies as well how to react when men are victims of abuse, and why male victims would say they have not been abused (stigma around it, gender stereotypes). Plus, the protocol states how domestic abuse can affect health emotionally: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, somatic complaints, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol or drug use, self-harm, suicidal ideation attempted or completed suicide.
Adding to that, WomensAid stated that domestic abuse is a major cause of women´s homelessness in Scotland. The government could prevent it, if they paid more attention, as to prevent those at risk of domestic abuse and give more funds for associations and victims.