Domestic violence understanding encouraging, says council

A survey designed to gather the views of Dumfries and Galloway residents on domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence has produced encouraging findings about levels of public understanding on the issue, says the authority.

The survey, which was undertaken by Domestic Abuse and Violence against Women Partnership (DAVAWP), was launched at the end of the 16 Days of Action 2014 Campaign (Dec 2014). The survey results will help inform the DAVAWP Strategy and Action Plan.

A total number of 502 respondents took part with the age range of respondents between 16 – 65 and around 80% female. This was a significant response to the survey which produced a number of positive results. For example:

• A substantial number of respondents were aware of DAVAWP (78%) and were familiar with local campaigns materials such as posters, helpline cards and the DAVAWP Website. Respondents were also familiar with joint campaigns with Queen of the South FC and initiatives such as the DAVAWP Song Writing Competition for Young People.

• Around 95% of respondents were able to identify most forms of gender-based violence, including domestic abuse, sexual assault and harassment, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sex trafficking.

• A high proportion of respondents could also identify key ideas behind the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 in relation to consent to sex. For example around 70% were aware of the role of alcohol in impairing someone’s ability to give sexual consent. Meanwhile, 85% were aware of the inability of someone to give consent to sex when asleep.

• One of the most positive results of the survey was the ability of respondents to clearly identify that domestic abuse did not always result in violence or physical harm. Around 90% of survey’s participants believed that coercive control in a non-violent setting could be just as damaging and traumatic due to the psychological abuse and restriction on liberty the abused person experiences.

• Also encouraging was the fact that just under 85% of respondents would take or consider taking action in the hypothetical situation that someone they know suffered domestic abuse.

• The survey did still show some work was required in raising understanding of issues within the sex industry. Just over a third of respondents acknowledged that stopping the demand for ‘sexual services’ would stop the prostitution and sex trafficking industries from continuing to thrive.

A significant number of respondents also endorsed a number of potential future DAVAWP campaigns. These would focus on all aspects of gender-based violence, for example, domestic abuse, rape and sexual consent, the risks of social media and ‘sexting’.

Prof. Hazel Borland, Chair of DAVAWP said: “We undertook this consultation prior to developing our new local Strategy and Action Plan. We were very pleased that over 500 people took part in this survey and will use the findings to inform future public awareness campaigns.

Our goal as a Partnership is to work together towards ending domestic abuse and all forms of gender based violence in Dumfries and Galloway. We know that this is not something we can achieve in the short term but by working along with residents of Dumfries and Galloway we hope that we can start to see less acceptance of the many forms of abuse that mainly affect women.”

For more information on Domestic Abuse and other forms of Gender Based Violence people can visit the DAVAWP Website on www.dumgal.gov.uk/davawp/