What if my ex-partner is abusive?

Last updated: 24/01/2020

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is not uncommon. It is when one person in a relationship tries to dominate and control the other person. It is when your partner makes you feel frightened or stops you making your own decisions. Abuse can be verbal, psychological, emotional or physical.

It can include any of the following:

  • Kicking, hitting, punching
  • Being called names
  • Being pressurised to have unwanted sex
  • Not allowing you to see friends and family
  • Watching your movements or listening in to your phone calls
  • Making you think you are crazy
  • Threatening to kill you
  • Controlling money
  • Smashing household goods
  • Stalking.

Violent behaviour or abuse is never justified. You need to think not only of your own safety, but that of your children as well.

Keep safe

If you are in imminent danger call the police, from a landline or mobile, on 999. 

You can also report any incidence of violence or abuse to your local police station, or you can call 101 for non-emergency reports. The police can put you in touch with a domestic abuse liaison officer, someone who specialises in dealing with this kind of situation. If there’s sufficient evidence, the police can arrest your partner. Evidence of the abuse can come from witnesses, text messages, medical records and previous reports you have given to the police. The police will send a report to the Procurator Fiscal. A Procurator Fiscal (Fiscal or PF) decides whether your ex-partner should be prosecuted. A court of law will then decide if your partner should stay in custody. You can contact Scottish Woman’s Aid or the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline for more information and support.

Have a safety plan

Draw up a safety plan for you and your child in case you have to leave home in a hurry. Put emergency contact numbers on your mobile phone. Have a bag ready to grab with some clothes, your child’s favourite toy, identification, driving licence, medication, birth certificates, passports, some money and benefit paperwork. Agree with a friend or relative that you can go to them or contact Scottish Women’s Aid or the Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Sources of help

Scottish Women’s Aid

Scottish Women’s Aid has lots of useful information on its website for women affected by domestic abuse.

There are branches of Women’s Aid across the country providing safe refuges for women and children, as well as practical and emotional support to allow you to recover and rebuild your life.

Find your local Women’s Aid here.


Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline

If you feel you or your children are at risk, or simply want someone to talk to about your experience with domestic abuse, you can ring the Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Scotland.

The helpline is open to anyone, regardless of gender.

It’s open 24 hours for phone, webchat and email support, and there’s a translation service to speak to you in your preferred language. The advisers will be able to direct you to other support services that can help you.

Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Scotland: 0800 027 1234

Men's Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is for men who are experiencing domestic abuse. 

Call 0808 8010 327 or use the online live chat or email service.