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Domestic abuse is an all-too-common occurrence, affecting one in five women and one in six men at some point in their lives.
Abuse comes in many forms; physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial.
Coercive and controlling behaviour has been a crime in Scotland since 2019 and the Domestic Abuse Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2018 makes all forms of abuse within an intimate or former intimate partner relationship a criminal offence.
Medics Against Violence (MAV) is a Scottish charity run by healthcare professionals with the aim of reducing injury or death caused by violence.
In a bid to help professionals deal with cases of domestic abuse, MAV developed the Ask, Support, Care (ASC) training programme, aimed at anyone who may encounter those affected by domestic abuse in the course of their day-to-day job.
These include not just doctors, but everyone from firefighters to dentists, hairdressers – and even vets.
Some may consider animal abuse and domestic violence to be separate issues but studies suggest there are links between the two. Signs of animal cruelty might be an indicator of domestic abuse.
Medics Against Violence can help everyone spot signs of domestic abuse, ask the right questions and ensure those affected get the support they need.
Dr Christine Goodall OBE, a founding member of MAV and honorary consultant oral surgeon at the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: ‘We are not aiming to be or to create experts in domestic abuse, we are just aiming to give a wide range of people the skills to ask about it and to signpost people towards expert help.
‘Our training has been delivered to doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, fire and rescue officers, vets and housing officers along with many third sector workers.’
Catriona MacIntyre, director and veterinary surgeon at Bute and Cowal Vets, said: ‘Being in a rural location in Argyll and Bute can often bring its own challenges when it comes to helping to keep people safe, and I wanted my staff to have suitable training to help them identify potential victims of domestic abuse who may present due to abuse of their household pet or farm animals.
‘By receiving this training, I hope we can help recognise the different forms of abuse in humans and how they might present and be able to signpost victims of domestic abuse to support agencies to help tackle domestic abuse.’
Staff at Dalriada Vets in Lochgilphead have since received ASC training and there are plans to expand the programme to other groups in 2022.
If you are in immediate danger or wish to report an incident of domestic abuse contact Police Scotland on 101 (non-emergency) or 999 for emergencies.
If you are looking for support in relation to domestic abuse, help is available from:
Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid: 01369 706 636
Scottish Domestic Abuse and Force Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Shakti Women’s Aid for Black and Minority Ethnic Women, children and young people: 0131 475 2399
Refuse UK National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) Helpline: 0808 800 0024
Childline for children and young people up to the age of 19: 0800 1111