Domestic Abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can have a really big impact on you. It can make you feel scared, angry, confused, exhausted and lonely (and lots of other feelings).

Domestic abuse isn’t usually a one-off incident and it often gets worse over time. It can involve things like:

  • Physical abuse (pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you)
  • Stopping you from sleeping
  • Controlling what you eat
  • Hurting you with objects or weapons (for example throwing the remote control at you or threatening you with scissors)
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Harming your family or pets
  • Verbal abuse (for example, calling you names or putting you down)
  • Coercive control (this is someone tries to control what you do, for example who you see or how you spend your time).

Nobody should feel scared in their relationship. If you have been hurt or think you might be hurt if you don’t do what someone wants then that is abusive behaviour.

It can be very confusing as abusers often show a lot of love and kindness. If you would like to find out more about your own relationship and if it might be abusive you can find a quiz at the bottom of Women Aid’s Domestic Abuse information page.

Domestic abuse can also happen once a relationship has finished and you’re not together anymore. 

Getting help when you’re scared…

Often people who live with someone who is scary can be too frightened to tell or ask for help in case something really bad happens. But everyone has the right to live in safety.

You can get in touch with people like Childline and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline who can support you and help you keep safe.

You can call Childline on 0800 1111 any day between 9am and midnight or you can chat to the team via webchat or email.

You can call Scotland’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also email them via

If you are in immediate danger you should call 999, if you can.

If it’s not safe to talk you can cough after dialling 999 and you will be put through to the operator.

If you are in danger, you will be asked to dial “55”, otherwise the call will be terminated.

What does the law say?

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 says it is an offence for someone to be violent, threatening or intimidating toward a partner or an ex-partner. This includes physical violence, as well as sexual violence and coercive control.

Where can you get help and support?

Find out where to get support. on our dedicated page

Ask for ANI at your local pharmacy. Ask for ANI stands for Action Needed Immediately. It is a codeword scheme developed by the Home Office to provide a discreet way for victims of domestic abuse to signal that they need emergency help at their local pharmacy. This scheme is available throughout all Boots stores and most independent pharmacies.

If you are suffering any kind of domestic abuse you can go into your pharmacy and if you ask for ANI you can receive a safe space to let staff know that you require an emergency police response or help to contact a helpline or specialist support service.

To find out where your nearest pharmacy is, use the NHS postcode checker.

If your local pharmacy is not a part of the Ask for ANI scheme they should still have other support available to assist you. 

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