When I was initially seconded to work with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) I was given the role of “National Campaigns Coordinator”. Seems a bit grand when you look back, but it served a purpose.
In 2009 ‘Police Scotland’ was still very much a plan. Scotland was served by eight separate police organisations. Part of the work of the VRU at that time was to coordinate these separate entities to bring about a collective response from policing at that time. Issues such as knife carrying and domestic abuse were a clear focus for the VRU, who saw both as major issues and as barriers to longer term prevention.
Campaigns have and will always have a place. Whether that is to support a local organisation or to help raise awareness nationally of an issue, ‘the campaign’ will be a feature.
Yesterday (14th April, 2020) the Herald in Scotland ran a provocative piece suggesting that the Scottish Government had jumped on the reported increase in calls to a domestic abuse helpline as the basis for a high-profile campaign against domestic abuse.
The article , had the smell of a personal agenda by the writer and suggested as there was no reported increase in police incidents that the campaign was pointless.
No, no and no…….
Campaigns have a place at any time and unless the messaging is harmful, they should go ahead. To suggest that a campaign, giving victims advice and guidance where to get support is not necessary and should not take place is simply wrong.
Domestic Abuse remains a badge of shame for society. Far too many women, men and children are exposed to abuse in all its forms. Encouraging a conversation on this subject breaks down the taboo that surrounds it. In simple terms, it makes it okay to talk about. A bit like talking about suicide.
During this current Covid-19 crisis we are seeing regular press reports of domestic murders where women have made up the majority victim-group. The current lock-down period is causing stresses and concerns for us all. However, this stress will be amplified for victims of domestic abuse who find themselves in a sort of perfect storm where isolation is forced and contact with support agencies is reduced.
Evidence around the world highlights a rise in incidents of domestic abuse during similar lock-downs. Whilst there have been increases in calls, we won’t know the full picture because Domestic Abuse is so under-reported.
Surely making use of the data from other countries alongside information from the many support organisations is a good thing. At a time when some governments around the world are being heavily criticised for not acting promptly, we have a Scottish Government who simply want to get ahead of the problem.
We all have a role in supporting victims of abuse. There are things we can say or do that can help any victim. For me telling a victim they are not to blame is the most powerful thing anyone of us could say to friend, colleague or family member. It starts to give power back to a person who has lost power.
Knowing where to refer victims is also an important tool we can all make use of. The following provides some places to refer victims to. They can also support you in supporting your friend.
- Scottish Domestic Abuse helpline – 0808 802 3333
- Abused Men in Scotland – 0808 800 0024
Personally I would like to see more campaigns focusing on societies response to domestic abuse but the ongoing campaign has a place within and out-with the current crisis.
Stay Safe folks……