The news of the deaths of Emma Pattison and her daughter Lettie, believed to be at the hands of Emma’s husband and Lettie’s father, has led to shock waves and widespread condemnation in the media and society. In her tribute to her friend and colleague the head of the Girls Day School Trust, Cheryl Giovannoni, made the chilling comment that ‘it doesn’t matter how brilliant or successful a woman is she is only as safe as her male partner allows her to be’. Her comment highlights the fact that domestic abuse has no niche and indeed transcends society. It also brings into sharp focus the fact that in many instances children are not protected in these relationships and indeed can be victims themselves. This interplay between domestic abuse and child contact is the subject of a study by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research published just this month.
Our parks, schools, restaurants and workplaces are amongst the long list of places closing following the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19. As we are advised to remain in our homes to protect our health, this can increase the risk of harm to those suffering from domestic abuse. The serious nature of being required to remain at home with a domestic abuse perpetrator cannot be underestimated.
The aim of the new act is to provide recourse for victims of the more insidious elements of a domestic abuse relationship which can be just as harmful as or even more harmful than physical abuse.
We discuss the Scottish Government’s confirmation that it will introduce a new, specific offence of domestic abuse and strengthen the law against domestic abuse.
We discuss a recent EUAFR report on domestic violence and look at how the laws in Scotland deal with this problem.