Holyrood’s Justice Committee has unanimously backed the general principles set out in the Scottish Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill.
In backing the Bill, the Committee stated that it was “sobering” to consider that serious and long-term psychological abuse within a relationship often cannot be prosecuted. Reflecting upon the evidence they heard, members agreed that psychological abuse can cause immense trauma and harm.
Commenting, Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:
“I know all Committee members would want to pay tribute to the brave individuals who spoke to us about their experiences as the victims of psychological domestic abuse.
“Their traumatic experiences have reinforced the need to make sure the current gap in the law is closed.
“This is an important bill with the potential to make a huge difference to those victims of psychological abuse so it is crucial that its provisions are robustly scrutinised.”
The Committee also recommended a Government-led publicity and communications campaign if the Bill becomes law. It would be keen to raise awareness of how the new law could support and help people, particularly amongst harder to reach groups.
The Bill will now progress to Stage 2, where amendments will be considered and the Committee intends to hear further evidence on emergency barring orders.
Emergency barring orders are short-term civil protection orders, designed to give the victim some time to take further steps to protect his or her safety. Typically, they do not require the consent of the victim, and may remove the abuser from the residence of the victim or prohibit abuser contact with the victim.
EBOs are available in a wide range of other European countries, including in England and Wales.
Webpages linked to the Committee’s Bill scrutiny are available here.