Real lives: Activist worked tirelessly to see changes made

DOCTOR Kate Cavanagh, a social scientist and activist, has died aged 56.

Dr Kate Cavanagh was internationally renowned for her work in the areas of domestic violence and violence against children.

She died on November 15, two years after she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

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Dr Cavanagh grew up in the Gorbals area of Glasgow with her parents, the late Adeline and John Cavanagh, and brother Michael.

She attended Holyrood Secondary School before achieving qualifications from three different universities.

These qualifications were put to good use in her tireless efforts to raise public awareness, change public policies and practices, and introduce innovations for abused women and their children, and for victims of rape. She never stopped.

Dr Cavanagh and husband Graeme Forbes, 54, moved to Longformacus Road in Edinburgh in 1986 to be closer to their parents.

She also leaves behind their daughter Laura Cavanagh, 22, and son Adam Forbes, 18.

She was a lecturer in social work at the University of Glasgow from 1993-2004 and a senior lecturer in social work at the University of Stirling from 2004-2008, with areas of teaching including domestic violence, the family, mental health and research methods.

After gaining her BA degree in Sociology from the University of Stirling, Dr Cavanagh and Monica Wilson were appointed as research assistants to study violence against women in Scotland, which provided the foundation for the 1979 book, Violence Against Wives – one of the first books to be written on the subject.

Dr Cavanagh went on to become a senior research fellow on the study of programmes for violent men.

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Most recently, Dr Cavanagh was a co-grant holder in the study of Murder in Britain.

Dr Cavanagh had sole responsibility for all data from Scotland in this national study.

As with her other research, Dr Cavanagh used her extraordinary skills as an interviewer to talk at length, and in detail, to men and women in prison for murder and converted the content into findings that advanced the understanding of the killing of children and abused women.

Her work resulted in joint publications, including numerous journal articles and a book, Changing Violent Men, published in 2000.

Close friend, Rebecca Dobash, who met Dr Cavanagh at university said: "She was the person all lecturers hope to have among their students – bright, sparkling, intellectually curious, willing to talk in tutorials, and had something to say.

"Whenever Kate was present, she filled the room with laughter and with the warmth of her abundant personality. You knew when she was there and missed her when she was not.

"She has gone too soon, left a loving husband, daughter and son, as well as all the rest of us who knew and worked with her and the communities who benefited from her lifelong efforts to bring positive changes through social work and social scientific research."

Even after the diagnosis of her illness and throughout the numerous treatments that reduced her strength and stamina, she taught, published, participated in public meetings and sought new grants.

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