ON the television screen a woman is begging her partner to stop.
He spits in her face, drags her from the sofa by the hair and starts hitting and kicking her. A small boy walks across the front of the screen. She begs her partner not to hit her in front of the child. He continues. The scene is not played by actors. It is not an educational aide. It was caught accidentally, the camera left recording after a birthday party.
The video clip is used to train newly recruited police officers and demonstrate the level of violence that can be involved in domestic abuse. It is one of the highest priorities for police across Scotland but there is still concern that, to some, the phrase "just a domestic", trips off the tongue too easily.
Senior officers and support agencies are looking at whether the crime needs to be completely rebranded because people still fail to take it seriously. Intimate terrorism has been discussed as an alternative. The overwhelming concern is that the public, and some of the agencies whose job it is to protect people, still don't see it as a serious crime, far less a crime.
Yet new homicide figures show that, over the past 10 years, half of the female victims aged between 16 and 70 years were killed by their partner or ex-partner. In the past year, three- quarters of murders took place in a residential location. Some 15% of victims were killed by their partner or former partner.
Domestic abuse ranges from verbal, physical and psychological abuse to murder. It affects men and women. It often involves child abuse and almost always affects children. And it is far more prevalent than the figures indicate.
Last week I spoke to women who were isolated for decades by partners who would not allow them to leave the house or keep their own money. One example cited by Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton of Police Scotland is that of a man who compelled all his former partners to cut and dye their hair in exactly the same style and colour.
The element of control is chilling. And yet the language "domestic" fails to convey what really goes on behind closed doors.
Last month The Herald revealed that Scotland's flagship domestic abuse court is so overloaded and facing such long delays that police and prosecutors are looking at whether perpetrators could be released on a verbal undertaking.
The specialist court was lauded for its pioneering approach of giving victims multi-agency support, and it was launched amid expectations perpetrators would be dealt with within six weeks. However, it is now seeing cases delayed by up to 40 weeks.
If we truly want Scotland to be a safer place, now is the moment to ensure that the initiatives which work to reduce domestic abuse are properly resourced.
And it is time to address our own attitides. While most would accept domestic abuse is a problem, many still question why it is a high priority for the police.
Too many still think it only happens to certain people. Last year there were at least 60,000 incidents across the country, across every class and profession. For some, "just a domestic" meant the end of their life.
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