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In this blog, two members of our Whole Lives Scotland team, Jen and Lindsay, explain why it is so important we hear from survivors across Scotland to inform our work. 

Have you experienced domestic abuse in Scotland? Your story matters; let us listen.

Scotland has much to be proud of when we talk about how we support survivors of domestic abuse. There is gold standard legislation that recognises the whole family impact of abuse, backed up with an informed and proactive police force. We have a network of passionate and skilled Women’s Aid and other domestic abuse specialists’ organisations providing first class support and practice, as well as ground-breaking research. But we can always do better. And it’s that desire from everyone working in domestic abuse, from policy to practice, to improve how we support survivors despite the immense challenges in trying times that makes Scotland special. And we can’t do that without listening. To partners and organisations, but most importantly, to survivors.

“I never went to the police, never went to the hospital.  I thought ‘I need to deal with this, I need to deal with this, I need to deal with this’. And although I knew who to access. I couldn’t do it.”

In 2018, SafeLives was awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, enabling us to work with four local authorities in Scotland to help them look at what’s working in the area for victims of domestic abuse, and what could be better.

Here at SafeLives, we don’t carry out any frontline work. We use data and evidence to transform system wide responses to abuse, supporting practitioners and ensuring the voice of those with lived experience is at the heart of everything we do. For this project we’ve been speaking to practitioners and looking at statistics, reading strategy and policy and hearing first-hand from workers what is helping and what could be done better. We are also consulting with people who have lived experience, exploring this in workshops and focus groups. Some of them are carrying on this work with us in co-production groups, looking at our findings and the tools and resources we plan to offer each area in response, and helping us understand if we’ve got the right idea.

Hearing about someone’s experience of support is incredibly important. But what is equally necessary is to understand what happened for those who didn’t or couldn’t get help. We don’t think that people are hard to reach, we believe that for some it’s the systems that make it hard. 

In order to make sure we hear all voices; we’re running a national survivor survey across Scotland from the 15th of October for anyone who has experienced domestic abuse. It is completely confidential and will be used to build a picture for Scotland and directly inform what we do.

We’re asking – what did you need in those moments that wasn’t there? What made a difference to you? How can we make sure that those who need help get the right help at the right time?

“They were so supportive.  They had obviously seen all different areas of abuse, so they, I didn’t have to over explain myself. They got me.”

Complete our survivor survey

Find out more about our Whole Lives Scotland work