Welcome to our Domestic Abuse Research and Impact Page. We aim to be a source of up-to-date information on domestic violence and abuse research presented for practitioners and community stakeholders. If you need to leave the site at any time, you can click the highlighted “Quick Exit” button in the bottom right corner, which will take you to youtube.com. If you are worried about someone finding out about your search history of domestic violence and abuse topics, please visit Women’s Aid’s comprehensive guide on covering your tracks online.

If you are reading this, you might have lived experience with domestic abuse and want to learn about how researchers are trying to tackle the issue. You might even want to get involved and learn what you can do to address the problem of domestic abuse in Scotland. You are in the right place. Feel free to start with our brief tour of intimate partner violence below. If you are interested, you can visit our learning corner to get information on related topics like child maltreatment and the types and dimensions of domestic abuse. You can also look at our infographics page for downloadable PDFs. Feel free to share these if you’d like! On all of our pages, you can click on any of our graphics to get further information from our sources.

Intimate Partner Abuse in Scotland

Did you know that about 65,000 adults survivors of domestic violence report to the Scottish police every year ? 65 thousand only scratches the surface of the true rates. Most domestic abuse survivors experience multiple instances of maltreatment, and most instances of abuse go unreported. Our definition of domestic violence and abuse is also evolving. Some behaviours that were socially acceptable in a romantic relationship 20 years ago are no longer tolerated. But these less physical forms of abuse (i.e., name-calling, gaslighting, etc.) are even more likely not to be reported to the police.

All of these numbers are so large that they can be hard to relate to. If you break these numbers down, you’ll find that the police receive a domestic violence call every 8 minutes.

65,000 is a lot of reports to police, but you’ll be glad to hear that around 33,000 charges are filed a year and of those cases where charges are filed, 30,000 are prosecuted (meaning that almost all of them result in criminal charges) (specific numbers from year ending 2022). Because of legal requirements regarding the burden of proof, convicting someone of domestic abuse is extremely difficult (and the process itself can be traumatic for survivors). This is likely why only around half of the reports to police lead to charges being filed. However, the fact that almost all charges filed lead to prosecution tells us that should a survivor want to press charges, and the police believe they have enough evidence, there is a very high chance of prosecution.

Despite general decreases in most forms of violence and abuse, the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to the police in Scotland are increasing. But these figures can be deceptive. First, count data is not corrected for population size. The population in Scotland in 1999 was ~5.1 million, whereas the population in 2022 was ~5.5 million. This means that we would expect an increase in the number of incidents even if rates of domestic abuse stay the same (or even decrease). Further, these numbers represent only those instances reported to the police. If people are now more likely to report abuse to the police (due to the decreasing cultural acceptability of abuse) than they were in 1999, this could also increase counts even without increasing rates. It is hard to know exactly what is going on in this data, but it is important to keep in mind some of the many different factors that influence count data.

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