WOMEN’S Aid Shetland has welcomed the new Domestic Abuse Bill which will make psychological abuse and coercive control in the home a criminal offence.
The bill was passed almost unanimously by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday to a round of applause.
Laura Stronach, manager of the local Women’s Aid office, described the passing of the bill as “a historical day for many women who have experienced coercive control in the home”.
“This bill recognises a pattern of emotional control in a relationship that may not include physical violence. This is the vast majority of our victims’ experience of domestic abuse,” she said.
“Having this type of fear that people are living with validated in law can only help us to respond better to women and children living with these issues.”
The local office currently supports 88 women and children to make change, recover and move on from all forms of domestic abuse.
Shetland Women’s Aid said it would also be able to benefit from an extra £165,000 in government funding to the national Women’s Aid organisation for training purposes.
However, while these measures have all been praised as important steps forward in Scotland’s strategy to end violence against women and girls, services remain under severe pressure as generic funding has been cut in the past.
Stronach said: “This is a great step but it is of no real value if we don’t have services like ourselves funded to look after and support women and children to get the help they need.
“Our funding has been cut in the past and has not increased in recent times. Our workload continues to increase and so our service becomes squeezed.
“I would urge local politicians to realise the importance of our role in protecting and implementing change in our community.”