Domestic Abuse       

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If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.

Silent Call For Help (if dialling from a mobile phone) – Dial 999 then 55 – if you are in an emergency when you cannot openly speak or verbally ask for help or give emergency details. After typing 55, you should try and cough, tap the handset or whisper to communicate on an emergency call if possible.  Follow link for more information.

Aberdeen’s Violence Against Women Partnership is committed to preventing and eradicating any form of domestic abuse, helping victims and identifying people who may be at risk. Our current Strategy and Action Plan can be found here. We are conscious that the current restrictions in place (due to COVID-19) may lead to an increase in domestic abuse and we want victims to know that although they may feel isolated at the moment, they are certainly not alone. 

The message to stay at home does not mean you should not seek support and it is more important than ever that you reach out for help whether it’s for yourself or someone you know. The safety and well-being of anyone at risk of experiencing domestic abuse is a priority for the partnership and we are working to ensure our services remain available and accessible to all.

Some of the main contact numbers are listed below. 

  • Police Scotland: If you are in danger and it is an emergency, call 999. For non-emergencies call 101

  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline* – Free and confidential advice. Open to all. 24 hours a day. Telephone: 0800 027 1234. Website: sdafmh.org.uk

  • Aberdeen City Domestic Abuse Team. Telephone: 01224 538000. Email: DomesticAbuseTeam@aberdeencity.gov.uk

  • Grampian Women’s Aid. Telephone: 01224 593381. Website: grampian-womens-aid.com

  • Rape Crisis Grampian. Telephone: 01224 590932. Website: rapecrisisgrampian.co.uk

*For more information about the national Domestic Abuse Helpline, the Men’s Advice Line (for men who have experienced domestic abuse), and the Respect Phoneline (for perpetrators who want to stop being abusive), click here.

Click on the tabs below for more information about domestic abuse, and services and support which are available.

NB Any information on this web page can be made available in other formats and languages on request – please check the ‘Additional resources and Translations’ tab below, or email communityjusticeforall@aberdeencity.gov.uk. All the services listed work with professional interpreters/translators where required.

1. What is Domestic Abuse? 

Domestic abuse includes physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse by partners or ex-partners. Domestic abuse can happen to people of all genders, and anybody can be an abuser. There are different kinds of abuse, but it is always about having power and control over you. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship – although this list doesn’t cover everything, and you may be experiencing other issues/ behaviours, too.

Physical abuse – Does your partner ever:

  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you?
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you?
  • choke you or hold you down?
  • throw things?

Emotional abuse – Does your partner ever:

  • belittle you, or put you down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?

Threats and intimidation – Does your partner ever:

  • threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy things that belong to you?
  • stand over you, invade your personal space?
  • threaten to kill themselves or the children?
  • threaten to harm family pets?
  • read your emails, texts or letters?
  • harass or follow you?

Financial abuse – Does your partner ever:

  • control your use of or access to money you have earned or saved?
  • forbid you from working or sabotage employment opportunities?
  • force you to apply for credit?
  • restrict money for necessities e.g. food, clothing, children’s expenses?
  • spend money on themselves but does not allowing you to do the same?

Sexual abuse – Does your partner ever:

  • touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
  • make unwanted sexual demands?
  • pressure you to have sex?
  • hurt you during sex?
  • pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?

If your partner has sex with you when you don’t want to, this is rape.

2. How do I get help and support in Aberdeen?

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, there are lots of people who can help you. You don’t have to wait for an emergency to seek help, but if it is an emergency call 999. The most important thing to remember is that domestic abuse is not your fault. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it’s important to tell someone and remember you’re not alone.

You can:

  • talk to a trusted professional (GP, Nurse, Health Visitor, Social Worker etc.)
  • telephone a confidential support service:

– National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline – 0808 2000 247

– Aberdeen Domestic Abuse Team – 01224 538000

– Grampian Women’s Aid – 01224 593381

– Rape Crisis Grampian – 01224 590932.

There are a number of other local and national services which can offer help and support if you are affected by domestic abuse. They are open now to support you, although they may not be providing support face-to-face. Their contact details can be found by clicking here.

3. How can I find out if an existing or former partner has a violent past?

Domestic violence disclosure scheme (also known as “Clare’s Law”)

Under this scheme you can ask the police to check whether a new, former or existing partner has a violent past. This is called ‘right to ask’. If records show that you may be at risk of domestic abuse from a partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

The “right to ask” also enables a third party, such as a friend or family member, to apply for a disclosure on behalf of someone they know. Again, the police can release information if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so. In order to make an application under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.

Please contact the police. You can do this by:

  • visiting a police station (the household isolation instruction as a result of COVID-19 does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse)
  • phoning 101
  • speaking to a member of the police on the street
  • clicking on the link below for more information and an application form

http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/disclosure-scheme-for-domestic-abuse-scotland

Once you submit the form you will have formally applied to the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland. Police Scotland will process the application – including conducting checks and meeting with you, the applicant. At the end of the process a decision will be made as to whether or not a disclosure will be made.

4. How can I keep myself safe and look after myself?

If you or your children are in immediate danger and need help, call 999.

The most important thing to remember is that domestic abuse is not your fault. If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you have choices. You can:

  • report domestic abuse to the police
  • leave your home or get the person who is harming you to leave
  • talk about your options with someone from a support organization – see Question 2 above for contact details.

If you decide to leave home, try to find somewhere to stay before you go. This could be:

  • with friends or family (if you think you’ll be safe from your partner here)
  • in a refuge
  • in temporary accommodation provided by the council

Call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or Shelter Scotland‘s housing helpline on 0808 800 4444 for advice on finding a safe place to stay.

You may be able to make your partner leave your home. This depends on what rights you have to live in your home. Find out more about staying in your home after a separation. If you do not have anywhere permanent to stay (for example if you’re sleeping on the streets, with friends or family for a short time or living in a hostel, refuge or hotel) you can make a homeless application to your local council’s housing department – see Question 2 for contact details.

If your financial situation changes after you leave your partner, you may be worried about how you’ll support yourself or your children on your own. Help with money is available, for example you might be able to claim benefits because you’re now a single person or a crisis grant if you need emergency financial help. See also Question 6 below for further information about financial support.

If you want to prevent your partner coming near your home or behaving in an abusive way towards you, you can take out an interdict against them. This is a court order that bans them from doing certain things. Find out more about taking legal action on the Shelter Scotland website. You may want a divorce or to dissolve your civil partnership if you want your relationship to end permanently. If you need legal advice from a solicitor but cannot afford the fees, you may be able to get legal aid.

How can I look after myself?

  • As much as possible stick to usual routines. Maintaining basic self-care like eating, showering, sleeping and exercising can all help your mental health.
  • Take whatever breaks you can, walk around any outside space you might have, read a magazine, get the kids involved in an online exercise class

5. How can friends, family members or neighbours help?

Family, friends and neighbours can help support you if you are being abused.

  • Can you FaceTime or call someone you trust? Can you talk to them about what you are experiencing and what your concerns are? It might be helpful to have a code word/phrase so that the person can let you know that it is not safe to talk or to ask someone to phone the police?
  • Could you set up with someone you trust a check in call so you know that someone will contact you at certain times of the week?

If you are a friend or family member concerned about someone you think is experiencing domestic abuse you can contact any of the organisations above for advice – see Question 2 for link to contact details.

If someone is at immediate risk of harm, please call 999 immediately.

If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong. They might not be ready to talk but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.

If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:

  • listen, and take care not to blame them
  • acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
  • give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to
  • acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
  • tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
  • support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
  • don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision
  • ask if they have suffered physical harm – if so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
  • help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
  • be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse

6. Can I access financial support?

A ‘victims fund’, administered by Victim Support Scotland, can support victims of crime struggling financially. The funding is available for specific costs and items in the aftermath of a crime.

The funding is for the direct purchase or reimbursement of goods and services on behalf of the victim. In most cases, invoices or receipts need to be submitted along with the application to verify the amount claimed and only in exceptional cases will a cash sum be provided to an applicant.

Examples of what the Fund can cover include: emergency household, food, utility or clothing expenses; costs to repair or replace damaged property or goods; contributions to funeral costs; removal costs; travel costs to place of safety or to attend court; or security equipment costs.

Other types of expenditure will be considered if a need is identified.

Who can apply: Applications must be endorsed and submitted by a referral organisation* acting in their professional capacity. [*Referral organisations are support organisations, mostly in the third sector, who victims and their families are in touch with.] Organisations can apply for funding on behalf of victims, but payments will not be made directly to these organisations.

Funding is open to any victim of crime who is resident in Scotland who is currently accessing victim and other support services. It is also available for people who live outside of Scotland who have been bereaved by a crime that has occurred within Scotland.

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • There is an urgent identified need
  • No other organisation can meet this need
  • The crime has been reported to the Police or other organisation
  • Funds provided require to be declared by the recipient

How much can be applied for: Individuals will be able to access assistance worth up to £3,000 to help meet immediate financial needs.

Timescales: Funding available from 1st April 2020.

How to apply: Complete application form, and email it to:

victimsfund@victimsupportsco.org.uk

More information and the link to the application form can be found at: https://victimsupport.scot/victims-fund/

For any queries about the fund, email victimsfund@victimsupportsco.org.uk.

Aberdeen local Contact: natalie.slater@victimsupportsco.org.uk

How do I get help if I have no recourse to public funds?

You may be able to access funds if you have support from a service / practitioner.

Key points: 

  • Local Authorities have statutory Public Health duties to provide emergency accommodation to all people with NRPF who are roofless or rough sleeping during the pandemic in order to protect them from the virus and mitigate public health risks. This is in addition to continued duties to provide any support necessary to safeguard vulnerable people, including children in families with NRPF and adults with community care needs under devolved social care legislation.
  • Local Authorities can provide financial support, food or other emergency assistance, so long as the source of funding is not a prohibited public fund (such as the Scottish Welfare Fund) and can work in partnership (e.g. with third sector partners)  to ensure that support can be provided effectively. In circumstances where an individual is receiving assistance solely on public health grounds, this will be provided on a temporary basis, as part of an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.