Scotland set to become a world leader in tackling domestic abuse
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has promised that the Scottish Government will tackle "horrendous" cases of domestic abuse
credit - BBC
Scotland is to become one of the first countries in the world to criminalise psychological abuse, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has said.
Matheson was speaking as MSPs debated the new Domestic Abuse Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
The cabinet secretary used the debate to condemn the "pernicious, coercive and controlling behaviour" of perpetrators.
Police Scotland recorded almost 60,000 cases of domestic abuse in 2014-15.
The majority (79 per cent) of cases involved a male perpetrator and a female victim.
The new bill will create a specific offence of "abusive behaviour in relation to a partner or ex-partner".
There are also proposals to ensure psychological abuse, such as coercive and controlling behaviour, can be effectively prosecuted.
The law been given the backing in principle by opposition politicians.
Matheson told MSPs of some of the "horrendous" types of behaviour victims can be forced to endure - but which cannot currently be prosecuted by the courts.
He said perpetrators "may not necessarily use physical violence against their partner or even overt threats", but they could "behave in a highly-controlling, abusive way over a long period of time".
The Justice Secretary continued: "Examples of what abusers may do to humiliate their partners are horrendous.
"For example, abusers may force them to eat food off the floor, control access to the toilet, repeatedly put them down and tell them they are worthless.
"Abusers also try to control every aspect of their partner's life, by, for example, preventing them from attending work or college, stopping them making contact with family or friends, giving them no or limited access to money, checking or controlling their use of their phone and social media."
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