Justice for domestic abuse survivors

Domestic Abuse Bill passed by Parliament.

Psychological abuse and coercive control in the home will soon be a criminal offence, after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill  was passed by Parliament.

As well as physical abuse, the Bill will cover other forms of psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour that cannot easily be prosecuted under existing criminal laws.

It will be possible to prosecute abuse in its totality as a single offence, allowing courts to consider the whole course of abuse and sentence perpetrators accordingly.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“I am pleased Parliament has come together to pass this legislation. This is a momentous day as our laws will be changed so they reflect the experience all too many women have suffered.

“Attitudes towards domestic abuse have changed considerably since this Parliament was established in 1999. Back then, some were of the mindset that domestic abuse – especially where it did not involve physical violence – was a private matter. Attitudes have rightly changed – albeit further work is needed to challenge lingering outdated or dismissive attitudes.

“I am very grateful to the domestic abuse survivors who presented their evidence to the Justice Committee. Their courage helped shaped the legislation I brought to Parliament, and their actions will help the justice system prosecute those who commit one of society’s most insidious crimes.”


When the new offence comes into force, it will be preceded by a public information campaign by the Scottish Government.

As the Domestic Abuse Bill progressed through Parliament, Mr Matheson announced dedicated funding for Police Scotland to enable them to train officers and staff to identify the new offence.

Earlier today, Mr Matheson announced funding for Scottish Women's Aid to develop training to help communities better understand the new legislation.

Read more about the Bill on the Parliament website.


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