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Caithness News Bulletins November 2004

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Womens Aid Outreach Rape & Abuse Line Highland Domestic Abuse Forum

Highland MSP Mary Scanlon Seeks Help For "trapped" victims of violence"
Mary Scanlon MSP has highlighted the figures in The Scottish Executive's National Strategy on Preventing Domestic Abuse which worryingly point out that in 50% of domestic abuse cases recorded, the victims had previously been the victim in another recorded incident.

Speaking in the Executive Debate to mark the International day to Eradicate Violence Against Women, 25th November, Mary commented that these figures indicate that victims are finding themselves trapped in abusive circumstances, and the abusers are not addressing their behaviour or, indeed, getting the support needed to change their behaviour and move away from physical abuse.

Mary said; "When violence is recorded - it would surely be helpful for the victim and the abuser to be offered some help and support in coping with situations which could potentially lead to violence in future.

"I was pleased that The Executive's national strategy includes the longer term goal of the need to 'Resist demonising men who use violence, but challenge abusing men to accept responsibility for their own behaviour'

"If we lock people up without providing rehabilitation, counselling or some other way of addressing their unacceptable behaviour, we will not address the problem in the long term. I hope that the experience of men and women who have used violence is listened to and that it informs future strategies.

Mary also highlighted the role of Women's Aid refuges, which undoubtedly do a wonderful job by providing much-needed support and safety;

"A problem that affects many single women who are in abusive situations, as well as women with families, is that once they are settled in a hostel, they find it difficult to move on to their own accommodation because of a local crisis in housing. That is a particular problem in Inverness at the moment and I imagine that the situation in other towns and cities is similar. My fear is that, in future, a concern about not being able to move on from a hostel or refuge may discourage women from leaving abusive partners.

Mary used some of her time to concentrate on male-against-male violence, saying; "Domestic abuse ... is part of a range of behaviours constituting male abuse of power, and is linked to other forms of male violence."

However, the document "Preventing Domestic Abuse: A National Strategy" states that the prevention strategy's underlying principles will be "informed by women, children and young people who have experienced and witnessed violence, and by research."

I fully support that approach, but could it not also include the experience of men who have been affected by male or, indeed, female violence?

The Deputy Minister for Communities informed Mary that there has been a referral to the Scottish Law Commission on the issues of rape and the point that she has raised will be addressed; "We look forward to hearing what is said. We abhor rape and sexual assault however it is expressed."