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Help for domestic abuse

This advice applies to Scotland

If you've been threatened or feel unsafe

Call the police on 999 to get protection immediately. 

Ask the police to refer you to specialist domestic abuse support or phone Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline yourself on 0800 027 1234. They can help you make a plan for your safety. 

If it's too dangerous to speak to an operator, dial '55' to let them know that it's not an accidental call and that you need help.

Using this webpage safely

If you share a computer with your partner or ex-partner, there's a chance they're monitoring your internet use or they can get hold of your mobile, follow Police Scotland's advice for erasing your search history

Are you experiencing abuse

Domestic abuse is a crime in Scotland. If you're being harmed by your partner or ex-partner you may be experiencing domestic abuse. This isn't your fault and there are organisations that can help you. 

It can be hard to see the signs that domestic abuse is happening or come to terms with it. You might not feel like you're a 'typical' victim of abuse but there isn't one. It can affect people of any age, including teenagers and students. 80% of victims are female but men can also be victims. 

Your abuser doesn't have to be violent towards you for it to be abuse. They might be using tactics to undermine you, remove your freedom and trap you into living under their control - this is called coercive control. The abuse could be directed towards you, your children or even your pets as a way to intimidate and control you. 

You should seek specialist support if you or your children are experiencing any behaviour from a partner or ex-partner that's:

  • violent 
  • sexual - including rape and female genital mutilation
  • mental and emotional - verbal abuse, undermining your confidence, gaslighting (making you question your version of what's happened)
  • isolating - from friends, relatives, health services and sources of support
  • monitoring or controlling your actions - for example, tracking you, watching your social media accounts, making you stay in the house during the day or limiting time at the shops
  • degrading or punishing - for example, not allowing you to eat or rewarding you for only 'good' behaviour
  • financially controlling - for example, not allowing you to have your own bank account or having benefits paid only to the abuser
  • intimidating - for example, threats of violence
  • harmful towards pets or your belongings - this might be to manipulate, frighten or control you

As well as domestic abuse you might be experiencing other types of gender-based violence, like stalking, rape or sharing intimate photos or videos without consent. There are other specialist organisations that can help you.

If you're not sure if it's abuse

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline has trained workers who can talk to you about your situation and help you understand what's happening. 

Both men and women can phone or email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's confidential and can be anonymous if you want. There's a translation service if English isn't your preferred language. 

If you think there's a chance your calls or emails are being monitored by your partner or ex-partner, it might be best to call from a public phone, the phone of a friend you trust or from your local Citizens Advice Bureau with the help of an adviser

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
Tel: 0800 027 1234
Email: helpline@sdafmh.org.uk
Website: http://sdafmh.org.uk/

How to find out if your partner has an abusive past

You can find out if your partner or ex-partner has abused other people in the past by applying to Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme, also called Clare’s Law.

The police can tell you whether your partner has a history of being abusive and you’ll get help and support to decide whether to continue the relationship.

You can apply for yourself or someone you know.

To apply to the scheme, and find out more about it:

If you want to leave an abusive relationship

Before you leave It's important to make a safety plan with the help of advisers at Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline. They're trained to help people leave abusive relationships safely. 

Your safety plan should be tailored to you and might cover things like: 

Get help to make your safety plan from the Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage hotline. 

Getting help from Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline

The helpline is for anyone affected by abuse, including friends or family members supporting someone affected by abuse. 

Both men and women can phone or email 24 hours a day. It's confidential and can be anonymous if you want. The helpline is run by Women's Aid in partnership with the Men’s Advice Line. If you're a man you'll be put through to the Men’s Advice Line.

There's a translation service if English isn't your preferred language. You can use this helpline whatever your immigration status is. 

If you think your calls or emails are being monitored by your partner or ex-partner, it might be best to call from a public phone, the phone of a friend you trust or from your local Citizens Advice Bureau with the help of an adviser.

Specially-trained staff will answer the phone. Find out more about what to expect when you call on the helpline's website

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
Tel: 0800 027 1234
Email: helpline@sdafmh.org.uk
Website: http://sdafmh.org.uk/

If you don't feel able to contact the helpline you could also speak first to an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau and they could phone on your behalf. This might be easier if you are already going there to speak about something else, like your benefits or housing. Read more about how an adviser can help

More support if you're a woman

The Scottish Women's Rights Centre can help you with free legal advice, for example about court orders to protect your from abuse and reporting the abuser to the police.

They have face-to-face legal clinics in local areas and a helpline which covers legal advice, sexual harassment and advocacy support.

Scottish Women's Aid run Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline. They also have local support groups around the country and operate refuges. 

Scottish Women's Aid
2nd Floor
132 Rose Street
Edinburgh
EH2 3JD

Tel: 0131 226 6606
Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234 (24 hours)
Email: info@womensaid.scot
Website: www.womansaid.scot

More support if you're a man

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline is for men too. When you phone you'll be put through to the Men’s Advice Line. You could also phone them directly. 

Men's Advice Line (MALE)

Helpline: 0808 801 0327
Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk
Website: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

There are other organisations that provide support to men, including Abused Men in Scotland, Fearless and Survivors UK. 

Fearless

Tel: 0131 624 7266 - this is not a support line and calls may go to answer machine
Email referral: fearlessinfo@sacro.org.uk
Website: https://fearless.scot/
Online referral form available at: https://fearless.scot/make-a-referral/

Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS)
Confidential helpline: 0808 800 0024 (7pm-10pm every evening)
Tel: 0131 447 7449
Email for men looking for support: contact@amis.org.uk
Email:
info@amis.org.uk
Website:
www.abusedmeninscotland.org

Survivors UK
11 Sovereign Close
London
E1W 3HW

Text-based helpline: 020 3322 1860 (Monday to Friday from 10.30am to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm)
WhatsApp-based helpline: 07491 816064
Office tel: 020 3598 3898 (Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm)
Email: info@survivorsuk.org
Website: www.survivorsuk.org

More support if you're LGBT+

Fearless is a Scottish support service for men, including trans men, and anyone from the LGBT+ community affected by domestic abuse. The service is available in many, but not all areas of Scotland. To refer yourself or someone else to the service use the online form or email. 

Fearless

Tel: 0131 624 7266 - this is not a support line and calls may go to answer machine
Email referral: fearlessinfo@sacro.org.uk
Website: https://fearless.scot/
Online referral form available at: https://fearless.scot/make-a-referral/

Galop National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline
Tel: 0300 999 5428 or Freephone 0800 999 5428 (Monday and Thursday 10.00am to 8.00pm; Friday 1.00pm to 5.00pm; Tuesday and Wednesday 10.00am to 5.00pm with Tuesday 1.00pm to 5.00pm being a Trans specific service).
Admin: 08452 605 560
Email: help@galop.org.uk
Website: www.galop.org.uk

More support if you're from an ethnic minority

There's specialist advice for Asian, black and minority ethnic women and children:

Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid
Tel: 0141 353 0859
Website: www.hematgryffe.org.uk

Shakti Women's Aid
Tel: 0131 475 2399
Website: www.shaktiedinburgh.co.uk

More help if you're a student 

You don't have to be living with your abuser for it to be domestic abuse. You might be living in university halls of residence, for example.

You should phone Scotland's Domestic Abuse helpline - it's for anyone over 16. 

Check if your university or college has a student advice service, crisis team or a helpline for abuse. If they don't, talk to a lecturer or someone who provides you with pastoral support. 

They should be able to help you with issues like:

  • breaks from studying and deadlines
  • university housing
  • university investigations against the abuser 

Remember there's action you can take if your intimate photos or videos are shared over social media

More help if you're not a UK citizen 

You'll get help even if you're not a UK citizen. You should phone Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline - they have translation services if English isn't your first language. 

Once you're safe you will need immigration advice and legal help. 

Read more about staying in the UK on a visa after a separation or divorce

Get immigration advice

The Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline might help you access immigration advice. Alternatively contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a specialist organisation like:

Ethnic Minorities Law Centre (Scotland)

Glasgow Office
41 St Vincent Place, 2nd Floor
Glasgow
G1 2ER

Advice Line for CAB advisers only: 0141 204 2888 
Contact form on website
Website: http://emlc.org.uk/

Members of the public can call the Advice line during the following times:

Glasgow Office – 0141 204 2888 Monday to Friday 9:30am – 10:30am

How a Citizens Advice Bureau adviser can help

In some cases you might not feel able to contact a specialist domestic abuse service or it may be easier to talk to an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau first. This might be the case if you're already going to speak about your benefits or housing, for example. 

Citizens Advice Bureau advisers aren't specialists in domestic abuse but they can listen confidentially to you and:

  • help you contact specialist support
  • establish what you've already done and if you're in danger
  • make sure you have a plan before you leave the bureau
  • explain the longer term options you might have 

An adviser can help you with housing, debt and benefits issues to help you live independently from your abuser. They will recommend seeing a lawyer about more complex housing, immigration and legal issues. 

Find your local Citizens Advice Bureau

Support for other forms of gender-based violence

Domestic abuse is often linked with other forms of gender-based violence and abuse. Read our advice if you've experienced:

National Stalking Helpline (run by Suzy Lamplugh Trust)
Tel: 0808 802 0300 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 4.00pm; Wednesday from 1.00pm to 4.00pm)
Website: www.suzylamplugh.org

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