Hairdressers and vets to look for domestic abuse

Professionals such as vets and dentists will be trained to spot signs of domestic abuse in a new scheme. Picture: PA
Professionals such as vets and dentists will be trained to spot signs of domestic abuse in a new scheme. Picture: PA
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VETS, dentists, firefighters and hairdressers across Scotland are to be trained in recognising the signs of domestic abuse.

It is hoped that the move will give victims the confidence to stop “suffering in silence”, amid concerns that many don’t come forward.

Professionals such as vets and dentists will be trained to spot signs of domestic abuse in a new scheme. Picture: Getty Images

Professionals such as vets and dentists will be trained to spot signs of domestic abuse in a new scheme. Picture: Getty Images

The Ask, Validate, Document and Refer (AVDR) programme has been awarded £115,000 to develop and deliver domestic abuse training.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “Domestic violence is a scourge on Scottish society and this government is determined to do all it can to eradicate it.

“The work already done by ‘Medics Against Violence’ has been truly fantastic and I am keen that, as a government, we provide this additional funding to expand it right across Scotland. The £115,000 we are giving to the scheme will allow it to potentially reach over 100,000 staff the length and breadth of our country and help untold numbers of victims have the confidence to stop suffering in silence and seek help.”

The latest funding comes alongside a £956,000 annual grant for the Violence Reduction Unit. The programme, set up by Medics Against Violence and the Violence Reduction Unit, trains professionals to spot the signs of domestic abuse and raise it with clients during a routine check-up or visit.

Domestic violence is a scourge on Scottish society

Michael Matheson

So far, 2,000 dentists, doctors, vets, firefighters, hairdressers, and dental and medical students have benefited from the project. It will now be rolled out across Scotland, reaching potentially 100,000 professionals. Vets have been recruited after a clear link was identified between animal cruelty and domestic abuse, with abuse against the animal often being used to coerce or punish the partner.

Vet Dr Karen Campbell was motivated to take part in AVDR training after being asked by the SSPCA to carry out a post mortem on the dog of one of her customers. The dog lived in a house where there was domestic abuse.

She said: “The poor animal had been kicked to death. Its liver was in shreds and it had bled out – the abdomen was full of blood. It would have been a slow and painful death for the animal. I’ll always remember the SSPCA inspector, who visited the dog’s home, describing it as a ‘house of violence’ with smashed windows and doors. Both the partner and the dog had been abused.”

The scheme was developed from an American model by Dr Christine Goodall and the Violence Reduction Unit.

She said: “Our wish is that supporting victims of domestic abuse becomes an expectation and that victims know if they approach a doctor, dentist, nurse, social worker, vet, fire officer or hairdresser for help, they will get it.

“Domestic abuse is never the fault of the victim and we want that message to be heard loud and clear by the perpetrators.”