Taking back control at Women’s Aid conference

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The Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid conference attracted a capacity audience. From April 1 this year, it will become illegal for perpetrators of domestic abuse to use coercive and controlling behaviour against a partner or ex-partner.

Last Wednesday Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid held a multi-agency conference in Inveraray in recognition of the imminent changes in the law.

The conference was formally opened with a heart-warming musical video
produced by Bowmore and Port Ellen Primary Choir, followed by a speech from Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities.

Bowmore and Port Ellen Primary Choir opened the Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid conference.

The minister welcomed 105 delegates from across Argyll and Bute, setting the scene for other presentations from Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, Jessica Eaton founder of Victim Focus and Sandra Paton, manager of Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid.

The key note presentation was delivered by brothers Luke and Ryan Hart, who spoke with heartfelt honesty about their experience of a relentless life-long regime of coercive control at the hands of their abusive father. A regime that ended when their father shot and killed their mother Claire and younger sister Charlotte in 2016, before turning the gun on himself.

Campbeltown Grammar School pupil representative Ruairdhi Wallace sang a welcome introduction to the brothers and Oban High School’s
Grace Mulligan met with the keynote speakers to discuss her desire to become a young ambassador of change in her community.

‘The day went really well with loads of positive feedback,’ said Sandra Paton.

What is coercive control?

The term coercive control was created by Evan Stark to help others fully understand that domestic violence is not just about physical abuse.

Coercive control is when a person that you have a personal relationship with behaves repeatedly in a way that makes you feel controlled, dependent, scared or isolated.

Signs of coercive control include:

Monitoring your activities with family and friends
Constantly checking up on you
Questioning your behaviour
Setting time limits when you are out with friends
Isolating you from family and friends
Banning you from seeing certain people
Stopping you from working in certain places
Controlling how you spend your money
Controlling how you dress or wear your hair
Telling you what you should eat
Making disparaging comments about your weight
Putting you down in public
Repeatedly telling you that you’re worthless
Allowing you little or no privacy
Damaging your property
Using children to report on you
Getting angry at the slightest little thing
You are constantly living in fear of upsetting your partner
You have to do things a certain way or your partner gets angry
Your needs are not seen as important and never discussed

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any form of domestic abuse, Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid (ABWA) is only a phonecall away.

All areas of Argyll can access free, confidential support and information by calling 01369 706636, emailing info@abwa.org.uk or visiting ABWA’s website, www.argyllwomensaid.org.uk