Whole Lives Scotland: National survivor survey

Identifying barriers to accessing domestic abuse services

The National Survivor Survey is a key part of the Whole Lives Scotland project’s aim to amplify the voices of survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland.

Conducted between December 2019 and March 2020, we aimed to reach victims and survivors in Scotland who had never accessed specialist support, as well as those who had. We wanted to identify barriers to service access, asking survivors what they needed in their journeys to safety and wellbeing.

We received responses from 246 people from all 32 local authority areas in Scotland, via several methods including an online survey. This report presents analysis of 279 adult victims and survivors of partner abuse in Scotland who answered our online survey.

  • 65%

    of survivors developed mental health needs

    as a result of the domestic abuse

  • 31%

    had disclosed to a work colleague

    about the abuse

  • 38%

    disclosed to a GP about the abuse at some point

    However only 2.4% of survivors who accessed a specialist service were referred by a GP

Key findings

  • Survivors experienced two types of domestic abuse on average with 96% experiencing mental or emotional abuse
  • Survivors experienced domestic abuse for an average of 5 and a half years
  • 65% of survivors developed mental health needs as a result of the domestic abuse
  • The majority of survivors had told someone about the domestic abuse – but experienced abuse for four years on average before telling someone
  • 31% of survivors had accessed a specialist domestic abuse service
  • Survivors who didn’t access a specialist domestic abuse service still disclosed to three people
  • The most common barriers identified were not being aware of the support available and feelings of shame and embarrassment

Further research and resources

Whole Lives Scotland

A three-year programme that aimed to review and improve the support available for domestic abuse victims in Scotland.

Whole Lives Scotland report

Findings from our project to improve the responses for domestic abuse victims and survivors who often remain 'hidden' from identification and the support that they need.

SafeLives Scotland

Access our programmes and resources aimed at professionals working in Scotland.