How the law has changed

On 1st April a new domestic abuse law came into force in Scotland

The law now recognises psychological harm, as well as physical harm, as an offence.

This means that abusers engaging in patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour (behaviour that has taken place on two or more occasions) can now be punished by law.

Change In Law Explainer Video

Examples of controlling and coercive behaviour

The examples below are not an exhaustive list, but give some idea of what form controlling and coercive behaviour could take:

  • Making someone dependent on or subordinate to the abuser
  • Isolating someone from their friends, relatives or other sources of support
  • Controlling, regulating or monitoring someone’s day to day activities
  • Depriving someone of, or restricting their freedom of action e.g. controlling their phone/communication access or access to money
  • Frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing someone e.g. abusive name calling, playing mind games that causes someone to doubt their sanity

The new legal measures will strengthen the powers of police and prosecutors to tackle all forms of domestic abuse.

Domestic Abuse Scotland Bill

Download a summary of how the Domestic Abuse offence works:

Download how the offence works

View the full Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 legislation:

View the full legislation