Types of Abuse 

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 now includes violent, physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse. The offence can carry a maximum prison sentence of 14-years. It is acknowledged that domestic abuse as a form of gender based violence, predominately perpetrated by men against women. This definition also acknowledges and includes abuse of male victims by female perpetrators and includes abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT++) people within relationships. 

Abuse can be perpetrated by partners or ex-partners and take many forms, including: 

Physical Abuse – Can involve punching, slapping, restraining, burning, spitting touching you in uncomfortable ways, pulling your hair, pushing and grabbing you kicking you, Threats to drown/suffocate and strangle you. 

Emotional & Verbal – playing mind games, blaming you, accusing you of cheating, constant interrogation, threatening to harm children and family, using derogatory language, leaving vulgar messages/voicemails, insulting and minimising your concerns, silent treatment, excessively swearing. 

Stalking & Harassment – includes the abuser following you to work or school, standing outside your home, watching and monitoring your movements, turning up at places, putting trackers on vehicles/phone laptop etc., asking other people of your whereabouts, forcing entry in your home and property, vandalising your personal belongings/ property and leaving/sending unwanted gifts. 

Financial Abuse – controlling your money, asking for receipts, forcing you to hand over your wages, removing your name from bank accounts, having access to your log-in details and passwords, using your disability benefits for their own needs, taking out debts and loans in your name, forcing you to ask your family for money, preventing you from working or holding down a job, not paying towards bills or child maintenance 

Sexual Abuse – This can include rape, sexual assault, not taking no for an answer, making you feel guilty, criticising your looks and previous sexual history, exploiting you for sex for financial gain, taking intimate images, forcing you to have sex with other people, threatening to share/post intimate pictures, stopping you from having sexual health check-ups, keeping you pregnant or forcing a termination, withholding or stopping you from having contraception, threatening to “out” you to family/friends. 

Digital Abuse – Watching your social media accounts i.e. keeping track of who likes your posts and who messages you, sending you negative or insulting messages, using technology to track your movements and activities, constantly texting you and asking you to send SnapChats/Geo Locations to prove your whereabouts, insisting that you give them your passwords to your email or your social media accounts, sending you explicit pictures without your consent and demanding you send them in return, threatening to share intimate images of you with your friends, family, community or online. 

The new Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 enables behaviours that constitute coercive control to be included in a new Section 1 Domestic Abuse offence. Under the new Act, it is an offence for someone to engage in a course of behaviour, which is abusive to their partner or ex-partner, and which is likely to cause the partner/ex-partner physical or psychological harm. This includes fear, alarm and distress, and is either intended to cause their partner/ex-partner harm or the perpetrator is reckless as to whether it causes the partner/ex-partner to suffer harm.

What is coercive abuse?

When domestic abuse is discussed, we often hear about physical assaults and verbal abuse. Coercive control may often be subtle and more difficult pattern of abusive behaviours to spot, but it is just as harmful as other forms of abuse as it is used to instil fear. 

When someone uses deliberate tactics to isolate, humiliate, manipulate or monitor a partner or ex-partner, this may be a sign of coercive control. An abuser may ‘gaslight’ a person by lying, denying and manipulating a person into thinking that they are to blame for the abuse. Abusers using coercive control may monitor their partner or ex-partner’s activities during the day by installing cameras or listening devices in their home, placing tracking devices on their phone, recording the mileage on their vehicles or they may control the access a person has to food, sleep, medication, certain clothing or visits to the bathroom. In addition to stopping someone from seeing their friends and family, the abuser may also try to turn a person’s family or friends against them or present themselves as being a ‘victim’ of abuse.


Gaslighting – is a form of abuse and manipulation concentrated on making someone doubt their reality.

  • They deny they said or did something even with proof
  • They accuse you of doing things that you know they have done
  • They turn others against you to take away your support system
  • They tell you that you’re crazy
  • You are never right
  • You constantly feel like you have to defend reality
  • Your trust in yourself and your intuition erodes
  • You always feel confused about whether you’re on good terms
  • You find yourself collecting ‘’proof’’ things happened so you can reassure yourself

Myths about Domestic Abuse

All abusers grow up in violent Homes – This is untrue although some children do go on to be abusive, many don’t. Most go into adulthood having seen all of the hurt this causes and would not dream of becoming abusive themselves. 

He/She/They hit me because they were stressed – This can contribute to a partner’s violence but it is not the cause of this. Many people get stressed but they are not all abusive towards their partners or ex partners.

They just lost their temper – This can be seen as a partner losing all control when they are very much in control by choosing when to abuse a partner. They will do this while alone and not in front of partner’s children or friends.

Abusers all have mental health issues – Most abusers have not been diagnosed with a mental health condition. It is another way of excusing their behaviours they don’t go around being abusive towards anyone else, just to their partner.

Alcohol and drugs make abusers violent – Many people drink alcohol and take drugs but are not violent towards their partners. On the other hand, many people who are stone cold sober never lay a finger on their partners. Blaming substances is a way of not taking responsibility. Again, using substances can trigger abuse but is not the cause.

They ask for it – Partners are sometimes attacked for no reason. No one deserves to be beaten. Violence and intimidation is not acceptable in any relationship. Saying that they asked for it is just a way for someone to not take responsibility for their actions.

People would leave if the abuse was that bad – It is extremely difficult for someone to leave an abusive relationship. There could be fear, threats to kill, low self-esteem. The person may feel they cannot cope alone or would not be able to manage with the money they have. If a person does not speak English as a second language this would be another barrier. People from other cultures may not leave out of fear as to not bring shame on their families.

Some people like violence – People do not like violence. They live in fear of their abusive partner. Again this is a way for a perpetrator of abuse to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Why don’t they leave?

This is a question lots of people ask and we understand why this will be very complex and individual to your relationship and experiences. Here are some reasons to help you or someone you may be supporting:

Danger & Fear – One of the most important reasons a person does not leave is because it can be incredibly dangerous. The fear that a person feels is very real. A partner may find it difficult to leave as they may not have the confidence or resources and they are at most risk of further serious/physical harm/homicide at that time.

Isolation – Domestic abuse very often relies on isolating a partner or ex-partner: the abuser works to weaken their relations with family and friends, making it extremely difficult to seek support. Abusers will often try and reduce contact with the outside world to prevent he/she/they from recognising that the abuser’s behaviour is abusive and wrong. Isolation leads a person becoming extremely dependent on their abuser.

Denial, Shame and Embarrassment – Abusers are often well respected or liked in their communities because they are charming and manipulative. This prevents people recognising the abuse which in turn isolates the person. The abuser most often minimises, denies or blames the abuse on the other party. The person may also be ashamed or make excuses to themselves and others to cover up the abuse.

Low Confidence & Trauma – When a person is told on a daily basis that “you’re worthless” this can have a significant impact on their self-esteem. If the person has very limited freedom to make decisions in an abusive relationship, they are often traumatised and regularly told ‘you couldn’t manage on your own, you need me’. The fear is constant and they remain in a world of everyday terror.

Financial Constraints – Abusers often control every aspect of the person’s life – making it impossible for them to have a job or financial independence. By controlling access to money, people are left unable to support themselves or their children.

BAME & Honour-Based Violence – Additional barriers a BAME person may experience can include social ostracism or rejection and emotional pressure, denial of access to children, pressure to go or move abroad, house arrest and excessive restrictions of freedom, denial of access to the telephone, internet, or passport/keys documentation, isolation from friends and own family, not being able to speak their own language or being prevented from practising their faith/religion. For example, they may: fear stereotyping or racism from agencies and feel reluctant to ask them for help, have language needs, not feel they are being listened to; understood or heard. They may have fear of deportation due to their immigration or asylum status.

LGBT++ – LGBT+ people may be manipulated into believing that there is no help available to them because they are LGBT+. They may also be told that abusive behaviours are ‘normal’ in LGBT+ relationships, or that LGBT+ people cannot experience domestic abuse. Abuse from family members is sometimes not recognised as abuse and written off as a ‘family dispute’ or having ‘different values’. LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse might feel that domestic abuse services are not for them or may not understand what has happened to them. Barriers may include threatening to disclose their romantic or sexual orientation, gender identity, gender history, or HIV status without their consent, pressuring them to keep their identity or relationship secret, undermining their romantic or sexual orientation and/or gender identity, using their hormones or gender-affirming medication to control them as well as trying to change or supress their orientation or gender identity.

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If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need immediate help, ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy.
‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

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