Record numbers of women in Scotland have reported they are victims of domestic abuse, it emerged yesterday.
Figures released by a nationwide helpline showed that the number seeking help during the festive season soared by 21 per cent.
A total of 3,589 people contacted the freephone number during the six-week campaign, compared to 2,968 in 2004.
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Bosses at the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline said scores of women who were victims of emotional abuse turned to the helpline for the first time.
Liz Kelly, training and support co- ordinator at the helpline, said many picked up the phone after seeing television adverts which highlighted the scourge of psychological bullying in the home.
She added: ‘For many, it was the first time they realised that what they were experiencing at home was, in fact, domestic abuse.
‘ When it is psychological abuse, many do not identify what is happening to them and so don’t know or feel they can ask for help.
‘It’s more difficult to define because there are no bruises or injuries on show.
‘Some women are subjected to relentless emotional and psychological abuse, where their partners create a climate of fear by using controlling behaviour.
Women in their own homes are consistently being undermined and scared by cruel remarks, having money withheld or taken from them and subjected to humiliation, blame, accusation and manipulation.
‘ The effects of this type of behaviour are devastating and at the helpline we provide women with the support and information they need to get help and change their lives.’ Official statistics published by the Scottish Executive last year showed that domestic violence had soared by 10 per cent.
Police were called to deal with 43,678 cases in 2004, compared with 39,643 in 2003, with the figures revealing that nine out of ten cases were perpetrated by men against women. The TV and radio ads, which were launched on Boxing Day, were voiced by Scots actress Daniela Nardini, who found fame in cult BBC drama This Life.
Miss Nardini said: ‘ We all deserve healthy, positive relationships where we can share values and be our own people in partnerships built on foundations of trust, support and love.
‘The advertising campaign shows just how devastating psychological abuse can be and I don’t think anyone should ever experience this.
‘It’s sad to know women are suffering in this way but I’m really encouraged that, through these adverts, people are coming forward for support and advice.’