My mum helped survivors of domestic abuse and it has been my mission since joining the Scottish Parliament to do the same.
I’m determined to act, especially since I heard the heart-breaking stories of so many survivors.
To help stop this awful crime, I introduced a proposal for a Bill to the Scottish Parliament last year.
The intention of my Bill was to introduce a reporting system for domestic abuse, which would take the form of a register, similar to the sex offender’s register.
It would also introduce mandatory rehabilitation measures for offenders convicted of domestic abuse and increase education around the subject, both of which would help to prevent domestic violence from occurring and reduce reoffending rates.
My commitment to this Bill only grew stronger when domestic abuse crimes hit record highs recently.
Scottish Government statistics revealed that there were 64,807 domestic abuse incidents last year, over half of which were repeat offences. This was a similar level to the previous year, when crimes reached a new record high.
My Bill has been progressing through the Scottish Parliament process and it has now achieved a major milestone.
I am very pleased that my Bill to tackle the scourge of domestic abuse has now gained cross-party support from 41 MSPs.
It has achieved the support of representatives from parties including the SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Alba and the Scottish Conservatives.
I had, of course, expected to receive the support of many of my Scottish Conservative colleagues, who have been fantastic in helping to promote the Bill.
But I am particularly grateful for the support of MSPs of other parties, who have put politics to one side and supported my bill so we can help survivors and stop the appalling crime of domestic abuse.
The bill was backed by the SNP’s Kenneth Gibson, Christine Grahame, Michelle Thomson and Fergus Ewing.
It also received the support of former SNP MSP, now the first Alba MSP, Ash Regan.
It was endorsed by Labour’s Daniel Johnson, Neil Bibby, Paul Sweeney, Foysol Choudhury and Monica Lennon. And Beatrice Wishart from the Lib Dems was also kind enough to lend her support.
My bill only needed to be backed by 18 MSPs from two parties for it to progress, so I am delighted it has gained the support of more than double the number that was necessary.
In total, 41 MSPs gave it their backing. Such strong support is hopefully a sign that the Bill has a good chance of becoming law. This significant level of cross-party support means that we are one step closer to passing this vital legislation.
The next stage involves the legislation being fully drafted before my Domestic Abuse Prevention Bill moves forward to be debated in the Scottish Parliament.
During this phase, I will fully consider all the feedback I have had from MSPs, organisations and survivors.
During the consultation process for the bill, 23 organisations voiced support for it, and more than 91 per cent of all respondents to the consultation were supportive, with 86 per cent of respondents saying they were “fully supportive”.
But many still offered useful comments to help improve the Bill. I have listened carefully to their concerns and their constructive criticism. I was also grateful to many MSP colleagues from across parties who gave me their views and offered some insights on how my proposed legislation could be stronger.
While there is still some way to go, I hope that one day soon, my Bill will become law and Scotland can be a world-leader in preventing and tackling domestic abuse.