What is Domestic Abuse

The effects of domestic abuse can be wide ranging and include physical injury, poor health and ongoing emotional and mental health difficulties. There have been a range of definitions to describe the abuse of women by partners, however the one adopted by the Project has been drawn up by the Scottish Executive and is outlined in the National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland.

Scottish Executive Definition of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse (as gender-based abuse), can be perpetrated by partners or ex-partners and can include physical abuse (assault and physical attack involving a range of behavior), sexual abuse (acts which degrade and humiliate women and are perpetrated against their will, including rape) and mental and emotional abuse (such as threats, verbal abuse, racial abuse, withholding money and other types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family or friends).

The following 8 categories of domestic abuse identify the range of experiences that women face when domestic abuse is perpetrated against them.

  • Locks you in the house
  • Isolates you from family and friends
  • Makes you move away from your family
  • You avoid company because he humiliates you/makes things awkward for you/humiliates your friends
Disability and Exhaustion
  • He physically beats and hurts you
  • You are permanently injured by the violence
  • He deprives you of sleep
  • You are hyper-vigilant, always 'walking on eggshells', responding to his ever-changing demands
Degradation and Humiliation
  • He humiliates you in public
  • He forces you to wear clothes he chooses/or refuses to let you have clothes or shoes
  • He makes the children humiliate you
  • He makes you take part in degrading sex acts with him or with others
  • He says if you ever leave him he will maim you/kill you
  • He tells you he will kill your children
  • He tells you he will get another woman if you don't do what he wants
  • He tells you he will make sure your children are taken into care
Displays of total power
  • He keeps you locked up
  • He takes all your money
  • He takes away your clothes or shoes
  • He forces you to work in prostitution
Enforcing trivial demands
  • His meals have to be at exactly the time he says
  • He has to have his clothes washed/ironed/folded a certain way
  • He has to have the house cleaned a certain way
  • He decides what television programmes you watch
Occasional indulgences
  • He buys you a present
  • He cooks you a meal
  • He tells you that you are attractive/he needs you/he loves you
  • He lets you go out with your friends
Distorted Perspectives
You begin to believe that:
  • You are stupid
  • You deserve it
  • You're to blame because you can't do anything right/don't keep the children quiet/aren't a good enough cook/can't manage money …
  • It's only verbal … it's not that bad
  • It's only when he's drunk, when he's sober he's different
  • It's all your fault
The following traits of Mr Right and Mr Wrong may help you identify abusive behaviour.

Mr.Right - A Non-Abusive Man
  • Is Cheerful
  • Consistent
  • Supportive
  • Tells you that you look good
  • Tells you that you are important
  • Uses your name
  • Trusts you
  • Trusts your judgement
  • Welcomes your friends and family
  • Encourages you to be independent
  • Supports your learning, career etc
  • Admits being wrong
  • Is a responsible parent
  • Does his share of the housework
  • Shares financial responsibility
  • Accepts that you have the right to say "No" to sex
  • Takes responsibility for his own being-well
  • In short – Behaves like a reasonable human being

Mr.Wrong - An Abusive Man
  • Shouts
  • Sulks
  • Smashes things
  • Glares
  • Calls you names
  • Makes you feel ugly and useless
  • Cuts you off from your friends
  • Stops you working
  • Never admits he is wrong
  • Turns the children against you
  • Uses the children to control you
  • Never does his share of the housework
  • Never looks after the children
  • Expects sex on demand
  • Controls the money
  • Threatens or wheedles you to get his own way
  • Seduces your friends/sister/anyone
  • Expects you to be responsible for his well-being
  • Blames you, drinks and drugs etc

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