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07 July 2014
Hairdressers trained to identify domestic abuse victims

Hairdressers trained to identify domestic abuse victims

Hairdressers are to be trained to spot customers who are suffering domestic abuse and encourage them to seek help.

Medics against Violence (MAV) and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit are to expand an initiative that has already worked with dentists, vets, GPs and most recently fire and rescue officers.

Professionals are trained in how to identify and discuss domestic abuse as well as the appropriate referrals that can then be offered to suspected victims.

MAV, a charity set up by healthcare professionals to focus on violence prevention, now intends to target hairdressers, given they can identify otherwise hidden head and neck injuries.

The intention is to launch a pilot, with director and co-founder Dr Christine Goodall hopeful of having training delivered in time for the busy Christmas period.

“I’m sure that when we do get hold of them it’s something that they’ll be quite sympathetic with and also something with which we’ll probably find they’re quite familiar,” she told Holyrood.

“It’s just a way of involving other organisations who wouldn’t normally get involved… because the more we make it unacceptable, the more it will become completely unacceptable and the people that do it, who are in any case in the minority, will feel a little bit less inclined perhaps to do that if they know that there are people supporting victims all over the place.”

A pilot with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service took place in May at Helensburgh fire station after figures showed that 1,754 incidents of fire-raising and vandalism recorded by Police Scotland in 2012-13 were linked to domestic abuse. Training is now to be extended to ten watches in two other fire stations in west Dunbartonshire.

“They do a lot of home safety visits to vulnerable people in the community and sometimes also just to the general community,” said Goodall.

“We felt that if they were in a home and looking round it… then they probably have a little bit of time to chat with the homeowner or the resident and if they see something that maybe might indicate that there is abuse going on then they are in a good position to raise it.”

More than 700 dental practitioners have been trained in how to use the intervention since the scheme was launched in 2010, while 50 vets and veterinary nurses have been equipped to do so in the last two years.

The initiative has also been rolled out to 200 GPs since April in partnership with Police Scotland, NHS Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland.

“It’s everybody’s problem,” said Goodall. “If you think about the statistics, one in four women, but it’s about one in six or seven men as well are victims of domestic abuse.

“We need everybody to be talking about it because it’s something that traditionally hasn’t been spoken about very much. It’s been a very, ‘oh, it’s a private matter’. It’s not, actually, it’s everybody’s problem, and I think if society shifts its attitude a little bit, brings it all a bit more out in the open then people who are victims won’t feel quite so stigmatised in whatever way they feel stigmatised by talking about it.”

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