Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Report by El Amethyst
The purpose of this report is to present the statistics and facts available for Domestic abuse predominantly in Scotland but may also include statistics and facts that are UK wide, in an effort to bring together information across agencies and identify the severity of the issue.
2.0 Research Procedures
2.1 A definition of Domestic abuse provided in the Scottish Government report.
2.2 Glasgow Woman’s Aid’s Statistics on Domestic Abuse were analysed.
2.3 Gender-based crime and Gender Stereotyping within Domestic abuse research and how Agencies are tackling this.
2.4 Police Scotland Statistics for Domestic abuse reported in Scotland were analysed.
2.5 Recent Campaigns & Action taken to tackle Domestic Abuse
3.0 Research Findings
3.1 A definition of Domestic abuse provided in the Scottish Government report.
“Any form of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere including online.” (Police Scotland, 2018)
3.2 Glasgow Woman’s Aid’s Statistics on Domestic Abuse were analysed.
Woman’s Aid defines Domestic abuse as a “misuse of power within relationships”.
There is still a misinformed belief amongst society that Domestic Abuse is caused by stress, drugs, alcohol and poverty. The charity explains that these factors may contribute towards Domestic Abuse but they are not the root cause. Another myth Women’s Aid addresses is that domestic abuse happens to women in a variety of social and financial backgrounds. It is not an issue related to poverty, it is a society-wide issue, in fact, a world-wide issue. Women’s Aid’s facts surrounding Domestic abuse are as follows:
· 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse at some time in their lives.
· 2 women per week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner (Department of health 2005)
· Women who are living with Domestic abuse are 2 times more likely to suffer from depression.
· In 90% of domestic abuse incidents where there are children in the home, the children will be in the same room or next room.
· On average a woman will be assaulted 35 times before reporting it to the police.
· 30% of domestic abuse starts or escalates during pregnancy.
· Domestic abuse accounts for between 16% and 25% of all recorded crime.
Finally, throughout the years of experience helping Women through Domestic abuse, Women’s Aid have found that many of the women blame themselves for what is happening to them. This is one of the major factors in why many women stay in the domestic abuse situation for so long. Women’s Aid has tried to tackle this with awareness campaigns that explain that the only person to blame is the person carrying out the abuse, it is the abusers choice to behave in this way.
3.3 Gender-based crime and Gender Stereotyping within Domestic abuse research and how Agencies are tackling this.
In recent years there has been a lot of changes within the authorities about how Domestic abuse is tackled. With the increase in LGBT rights and campaigns for men who have suffered abuse, the statistic may lean heavily towards a majority of female victims but forgetting the minority will cause an area that is overlooked and unsupported. Which is why these campaigns have started to become more prevalent. Authorities have to ensure a balance of acting on the statistic while ensuring the minority with in the area of domestic abuse are not forgotten.
The NHS has addressed this in their “Gender-Based Violence, Domestic Abuse, What health workers need to know about Gender-based violence” Information booklet.
To tackle the Gender issue and confusion, Domestic Abuse has been separated into two categories:
· SITUATIONAL COUPLE VIOLENCE: the most common form of “couples violence” where couples fight with verbal or physical aggression. This can range from minor incidents of slapping or pushing to more serious assaults. It is however infrequent, where one or both partners resort to violence which is related to anger issues, alcohol misuse or communication issues.
The critical key point in Situational Couple Violence is that it’s “not being used by one partner as a pattern of behaviour to control the other but is a result of a conflict situation.” In other words, the root cause is in a situation or series of situations rather a “relationship-wide” attempt at controlling the partner.
Within the Scottish Crime and Justice survey, 3.4% of women and 2.4% of men said they experienced at least one form of domestic abuse in the past 12 months. It is clear that in this section of domestic abuse it is as likely for both genders to be either the victim or offender and in some cases both.
· COERCIVE CONTROL: this is deliberate behaviour to gain power and control over a person, where violence is one of many different tactics used to this end. There is an imbalance of power within the relationship as the offender intentionally humiliates, degrades, intimidates and hurts their partner to maintain dominance. This can include: sexual violence and abuse, isolation, mind games, stalking, invasion of privacy and micro-regulation of everyday life (monitoring things like phone activities, internet activities, type of clothes worn, food consumed, social interactions, finance etc)
This is the closer form of domestic abuse to the Scottish Government guidelines where economic, psychological and physical subservience works to reduce the victim's ability to act or react by destroying their liberty, freedom of movement and sense of self. Fear is the fundamental tool in power and control.
In this type of domestic abuse, the victim is predominantly female and is far more destructive than Situational Couple Violence.
It is acknowledged that Men rarely report incidents of abuse or dominant patterns of behaviour by women. These incidents are brushed offwithin by men as trivial or are not acknowledged as a problem. Gender stereotyping deems it “unmanly” to admit they were a victim of domestic abuse. It is acknowledged that Domestic abuse can occur in any intimate relationship regardless of gender identity, sex or sexual orientation. It has been accepted that domestic abuse is prevalent with in the LGBT community as well. Steps are being made to educate staff to ensure stereotype reactions do not affect or limit a victim's access to support or support offered.
Among the care sector, there was fear of being intrusive when there were signs of domestic abuse, but after research, many say it is acceptable to ask and often opens up lines of communication. As a result, the “NHS Scotland has introduced a programme of routine enquiry of domestic abuse into mental health, sexual and reproductive health, substance misuse, health visiting and maternity services.”
It has now become part of the care sectors duty of care if they suspect domestic abuse, to introduce the subject to the suspected victim sensitively and ask them.
3.4 Police Scotland Statistics for Domestic abuse reported in Scotland were analysed.
Police Scotland have in their statistics documents, emphasized that incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police does not represent all incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland as not all incidents are reported to the police.
With that in mind, the statistics provided are a strong indication of the severity of the issue:
· 58,000 – 60,000 incidents are reported yearly
· In the year 2017-18 there was 59,541 incidents of domestic abuse, an increase of 1% compared to previous years.
· In 2017-18 44% of incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police in Scotland included the recording of at least one crime or offence.
· Most frequent crime recorded as part of Domestic abuse was Common Assault (which accounts for 37% of all crimes and offences)
· There are 110 incidents of domestic abuse recorded by the police per 10,000 population.
· Where gender information is recorded 4 in every 5 incidents had a female victim and male accused.
· 16% of domestic abuse incidents involve a male victim and female accused.
· The 26-30 age group had the highest incident rate for both victims
· 35% of all incidents recorded occurred at the weekend
· 88% of all domestic abuse victims occurred in a home or dwelling.
3.5 Recent Campaigns & Action taken to tackle Domestic Abuse
One of the most recent Actions taken by the Scottish Government to tackle Domestic Abuse is the very publicized Domestic Abuse Act passed in April 2019. This new Act criminalises psychological domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. This targets a dark area of Domestic abuse that until then was difficult to address until it escalated. In May 2019 Scotland seen their first conviction under the new law. For the first time, Police were able to investigate and report the full extent of the abusive relationship to the crown.
More than 400 crimes were recorded in the first 3 months of the new law. By August 2019 190 cases had been brought to the crown and there were 13 convictions. It is still worth noting that over 50% of cases are still not reaching the Crown prosecution.
All charities and official bodies involved in tackling Domestic abuse have actively campaigned to raise awareness. Woman’s Aid has videos and posters on Coercive control, explaining what Domestic abuse includes. Police Scotland did a Campaign on social media called #everynineminutes in December 2018 deliberately addressing perpetrators of domestic abuse during the festive season when Domestic abuse increases. This campaign ran on all social media platforms and within all police Scotland departments.
Police Scotland works closely with a variety of organizations to tackle Domestic abuse, these include: - LGBT Youth Scotland that manages LGBT Domestic Abuse Scotland
- Shakti Women’s Aid
- Respect & LGBT Youth Scotland
- Scotland Domestic abuse & forced marriage
- Scottish women’s aid
- Violence reduction unit – Scotland says no
- Broken Rainbow
- Rape Crisis
- Men’s advice line
- Men’s Aid
- Abused Men in Scotland (AIMS)
Also in December 2018 Police Scotland reported their plan to spend £825,000 on a training scheme to deal with Domestic Abuse & Coercive control. They declared that over the next 18 month 14000 officers and staff would complete a full days face to face training session and an online eLearning course to teach them how to recognise and deal with Domestic abuse.
4.0 Conclusion & recommendations
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of work in all sectors to target and tackle Domestic abuse. There is an increase in awareness and society is becoming more educated by the effects and hidden facts. This is all very positive. With the new law, the officials have more scope to work with the domestic abuse cases reported and properly represent the scope of the abuse in court. But society must not fall into the misconception that now that it is publicized and openly being tackled that the problem is being solved. There is still an epidemic, there are still cases going unreported, it is still impacting future generations. Domestic Abuse is still a big problem, there are still far more hidden numbers. Society as a whole and officials within must ensure that the constant high publicity of Domestic abuse does not diminish the still ongoing problem.
Society must avoid getting weighed down by debates over Gender, equal rights and figures, which are distracting from the problem at hand. Officials should adapt to the NHS policy of non-judgement and discrimination regarding gender. More education is needed to ensure officials understand how different relationship dynamics impact different victims, for example, there are different effects on women in fear and men in fear, these effects need to be considered without blaming victims in general. The focus of blame must stay on the perpetrator and social misconceptions should be addressed continuously without victim-blaming. Gender “judgement” must be addressed from all angles, whether it’s the increased publicity of female victims impacting the male victims or the lack of publicity of male victims impacting the female victims finally able to speak out.
5.0 Further Reading
An article on the Scottish Government website titled “The Case for a Gendered Analysis of Violence Against Women” will clarify the campaign of awareness to target a Social wide issue of Gender violence that does not by no means negate the severity of male victims of Domestic violence. (https://www2.gov.scot/resource/doc/925/0063070.pdf)
An article supported by AIMS titled “Men’s experience of domestic abuse in Scotland: An update” will clarify how gender stereotyping and the increasing awareness of Domestic Abuse where more female victims are coming forward have impacted male victims. (http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4610/1/Bates_MensExperience.pdf)
An increase awareness of Perpetrators characteristics of charisma and charm that enable them to “pretend” to be the victim must be considered from all gender angles.
The focus must remain on the reduction of all Domestic Abuse and the reduction of all victim-blaming. A sensitivity towards victims disclosing or sharing their story. In order to reduce the impact on future generations to help break the cycle of violence.
Gov.Scot, 27th Nov 2018, Domestic Abuse Recorded By the Police in Scotland, 2017-18, viewed 13th Jan 2020
Police Scotland, 2018, Domestic Abuse 2018, viewed 13th Jan 2020
NHS Health Scotland, 2019, Gender based violence – Domestic Abuse, viewed 13th Jan 2020
Glasgow Womans Aid, Statistics, viewed 13th Jan 2020
Scottish Government, 2019, Domestic Abuse Act in Force, viewed 2nd Feb 2020
BBC Scotland, 2019, New Domestic Abuse Law, viewed 2nd Feb 2020