Over 53,000 reported cases of domestic abuse were reported in Scotland in 2009. More current data is not yet available, but last year’s was already an increase of 8% over 2007. I was therefore happy to see that the Kirk presented a response to the Scottish Parliament on the consultation to Rhoda Grant’s Bill on Domestic Abuse. The Church of Scotland’s Guild has been heavily involved through its Scottish Women’s Convention in working towards improving the position of women in Scotland, and addressing issues of violence against women.
Domestic abuse is not a family spat; it is serious business where women and children have to cope with possible re-location, financial and psychological distress as well as physical violence. This does not mean that all who suffer from domestic abuse are women; there are reported cases of men suffering from this type of abuse, but the numbers are low in comparison.
In the current economic environment, with the extent of the proposed cuts becoming clearer by the day it is important to stress that not everyone will be capable of contributing to the reduction of the deficit. We are not all in this together; some are in such vulnerable positions, that it is not ethical to increase their burden any further. This is the case of victims of domestic abuse. The legal, medical and psychological needs of people in vulnerable positions, escaping their homes because of domestic abuse must be supported.
These people, although traumatized, gather the strength to escape the family home because they are protecting their children. The access to legal assistance is of paramount importance for their welfare and should be protected from cuts, even in these times of restraint.