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Collecting and learning from abuse case studies must be next step

This opinion piece is over 6 years old

Victim Support Scotland member Janine Ewen wants to see case studies collected of those who have been through the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme

Last week, the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme Scotland (DADSS) marked its second anniversary since the beginning of its pilots and national roll out.

The scheme has its place as one of a range of options which should be available to women and men experiencing domestic abuse. It is hoped that by disclosing to the person via two parameters (‘the right to ask’ or the ‘power to tell’) they will be informed and able to decide if it is suitable for them to remain in their relationship. In other words, are you at too much risk to stay?

The domestic abuse disclosure forum is the most important factor in the process, where collaborative judgments on cases are discussed, including how the disclosure is worded.

Receiving such information is overwhelming and life-changing - for those who experience domestic abuse and for those who have not. We should never be quick to assume that the DADSS is simple or easy. The disclosure partners have witnessed a range of emotions, experiences, and implications when the person is told.

Janine Ewen
Janine Ewen

Here are three real case examples of this diversity:

“While I do appreciate what you are telling me, I do not want to leave my partner at this moment in time. I have not experienced violence, but if a situation does arise, I will act on it.”

A woman was starting to get involved in a relationship but had her suspicions. She made a request for a ‘right to ask’ and it was granted. It turned out that there had been a history of domestic abuse and in this case, this confirmed the woman’s suspicions and she left.

One person was in a state of shock because they had been contacted by the police and didn’t know what for (the police cannot give out the disclosure over the phone). “What on earth? Please tell me why you are phoning me. I need to know!” The person did not believe what was told and wanted more information. The follow up took some time to organize as the person was understandably upset.

Women’s aid organisations and disclose partners believe it is essential and good practice to propose a large investigation that would help to determine what the implications are for those who go through the disclosure, particularly the perspectives of impact on their quality of life after receiving the information. This may also involve a discussion on how partner organizations dealt with the disclosure, the police handling of phone calls, safety planning and follow up.

Collecting and learning from case studies and how to improve the process must be the next step before another marking of the disclosure’s anniversary.

Janine Ewen is a member of Victim Support Scotland and trustee for the Umbrella Lane project.