Spotting the signs of domestic abuse

A new film shows how to spot the signs of dometic abuse. Pic: John Devlin.

A new film shows how to spot the signs of dometic abuse. Pic: John Devlin.

A powerful film showing how professionals such as GPs, dentists, hairdressers and emergency workers, can help to spot the signs of domestic abuse has been unveiled.

Routine or private appointments – like a haircut, dental check-up or a home safety visit – can often provide an opportunity for domestic abuse victims to be given advice on how to get help.

The Ask, Support and Care (ASC) programme, set up under the pioneering Medics Against Violence project and the Violence Reduction Unit, has so far trained more than 2,300 professionals.

The new film – entitled ‘Harder’ – shows how the signs of domestic abuse can sometimes be visible, though not necessarily in bruises or injury, and includes advice about how to broach this sensitive subject with someone who may be the victim of abuse.

As well as being used in training sessions, the video is being made publicly available to further raise awareness of how many more people can spot the signs of domestic abuse.

Annabelle Ewing, community safety minister, launched the new film on a visit to Kirkcaldy to see firefighters taking part in ASC training.

Ms Ewing said: “Domestic abuse can often be a hidden crime, inflicting long term damage on victims who are too afraid to speak out. Training professionals to spot the signs and have the confidence and information to broach the subject is an important way of making a difference.

“Thousands of professionals have already been trained under the ASC and I am glad that work is continuing and being bolstered by the new and powerful film.

“Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for this Government and this year we will be being introducing to Parliament new legislation to create a specific offence of domestic abuse. We are also investing record levels of funding to put in place better support for victims and taking action to tackle the underlying attitudes and improve understanding of these crimes to reinforce a zero tolerance approach to domestic abuse.”

Christine Goodall, founder of Medics Against Violence, said: “We firmly believe that this is everyone’s issue and we can all help on some level even if just to offer contact details for one of the specialist domestic abuse organisations. Those affected are our patients, our clients, our colleagues and our friends and as professionals we have a duty of care towards them, for too long domestic abuse has been the elephant in the room and we hope to change that.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue service sit at the heart of every community, both urban and rural, and so are very well placed to provide support to residents in the area, particularly through their home fire safety visits when they have time to speak to residents who may then confide in them. Fire can sometimes be used to intimidate those experiencing abuse and while deliberate fire raising is not a common occurrence the consequences can be devastating.”

David McGown, assistant chief officer, director of prevention and protection, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has identified a need to train officers about domestic abuse as there is a clear link with fire raising. Firefighters operate in all sections of every community which means our crews are in a position where they may be able to notice abuse and help someone access the support that’s available.

“Domestic abuse affects people of every background and victims are often very reluctant to seek help. By identifying this ensures that those who are vulnerable receive the correct support.

“Medics Against Violence already train other professionals who work with the public and training firefighters how to identify and act on domestic abuse can make a real difference and help protect our communities.”