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New law will give powers to tackle psychological abuse

Scottish Parliament bill aims to address damage caused by coercive and controlling behaviour.

Abuse: The bill aims to make non-physical abuse a statutory offence.
Abuse: The bill aims to make non-physical abuse a statutory offence.

A new law to tackle psychological domestic abuse is being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill aims to strengthen the law against people who psychologically abuse their partners using coercive and controlling behaviour.

For the first time, the bill will create a statutory offence of domestic abuse by recognising the damage which non-physical abuse can cause.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met survivors of abuse at the Glasgow Young Women's Movement (YWCA) as the bill was being introduced to parliament.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am proud that, as a society, we've come a long way from believing that domestic abuse is only a physical act.

"The truth is that the psychological scars left by emotional abuse can have devastating effects on victims, and this government will work hard to make sure perpetrators face the justice they deserve.

"This bill will help our police and prosecutors hold abusers to account, but importantly, it also shows those who have suffered abuse that we stand with them and will take the steps needed to help them.

"I know that legislation alone will not tackle the scourge of domestic abuse, which is why support services like the one I visited this morning are so important.

"The YWCA, alongside ASSIST, Scottish Women's Aid and many other groups provide a vital lifeline for survivors, and the brave women I met today are a testament to the strength their support can bring."

Kara Brown, director of YWCA Scotland, added: "The Young Women's Movement is proud to be part of a country breaking ground through new progressive legislation.

"It is only by addressing the full spectrum and cycle of coercive control and domestic abuse that change will take place.

"Young women in all their diversity describe difficulty in recognising and ending patterns of abuse within relationships.

"We welcome this legislation as a critical tool to reduce stigma, raise understanding and encourage survivors of mental, financial and physical abuse to come forward."

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