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Support continues for local victims of domestic abuse


By Jean Gunn

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Assurances have been given that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse or gender-based violence can still get the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic (picture posed by model).
Assurances have been given that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse or gender-based violence can still get the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic (picture posed by model).

Confidential support continues to be provided locally for victims of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid (Caswa) has adapted quickly to deliver a safe, non-judgemental service in light of the emergency.

The organisation continues to provide one-to-one support and information by phone, email and text to those who need it. The helpline remains open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and new referrals will be accepted and responded to.

The group was "delighted and thankful" to discover that it would receive a donation from the funds raised when Comic Relief and Children in Need joined forces for the Big Night In on BBC One last Thursday.

This donation will go towards the help it provides for local women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.

Caswa says it is updating its website, particularly the blog section, and social media channels with relevant, specific information and hopes to raise awareness about the availability of the service.

The local group can be contacted through the helpline on 0345 408 0151, or by email at info@caswa.org.uk

There is also a contact tab and safety tips on the group's website – www.caswa.org.uk

In addition, Caswa can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

Meanwhile, Highland Violence Against Women Partnership (HVAWP) is keen to ensure that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse or gender-based violence gets the help they need during the pandemic.

The partnership says it is fully behind the Scottish Government’s relaunched campaign against domestic abuse and its message that, even during these unprecedented times, support services are there for those who need them.

HVAWP chairperson Jacquelyn Jennett said: “The lockdown dictates that we must all stay at home where possible – but, for many women and children in the Highlands, home is not a safe place to be.

“This is a particularly difficult time for women and children suffering from domestic violence as they will have reduced contact with supportive friends, families, communities and services.

“Experts have warned that pandemics have been linked to increased violence against women and children. When mobility is limited and social distancing measures are in place, economic vulnerability increases, legal and social services are scaled back and challenges in escaping abusive partners can be exacerbated.”

Tackling domestic abuse and gender-based violence remains a priority for each and every member of the HVAW partnership, which includes Highland Council, Police Scotland, NHS Highland, local women’s aid organisations and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland (Rasash).

The partner agencies continue to monitor the impact the lockdown measures may be having on families.

New guidance has been announced for social landlords around domestic abuse and coronavirus which has been developed by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Scottish Women’s Aid with engagement from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

The report highlights what social landlords can do to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Baird of Police Scotland, Highland and Islands division, said: "To all those who are living through lockdown in abusive relationships, our message is clear. Please do not be put off reporting domestic violence, including coercive and controlling behaviour, during the current coronavirus outbreak.

"Police across Highland and Islands are ready and able to respond to ensure your safety."

While current measures exist Highland women’s aid groups are continuing to provide outreach services and refuge accommodation to women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.


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