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Community / Domestic abuse partnership undergoes rebrand

THE SHETLAND Domestic Abuse Partnership, which coordinates efforts by agencies in Shetland to raise awareness of, prevent and support those affected by all forms of gender-based violence (GBV) has launched a re-brand.

The partnership has now adopted the new title of Shetland Violence Against Women Partnership (SVAWP).

The members of the partnership include Shetland Women’s Aid, The Compass Centre, Police Scotland, Hjaltland Housing Association, SIC housing, social work, children’s services, NHS Shetland, UHI Shetland and space2face.

The re-brand brings things in line with other VAW partnerships across Scotland and takes its lead from the recent Scottish Government strategic review of violence against women, children and young people’s services, which calls for a strengthened role for local VAW partnerships in the coming years.

Partnership co-chair and Service Manager at The Compass Centre Lisa Ward said: “Since we last refreshed our strategy in 2018, GBV has been increasingly recognised as a major human rights issue in Scotland.

“There is more awareness of the wide range of behaviours that fall under the GBV umbrella, and more information has been made available on how to get help if you’ve been affected. Our continued partnership work aims to keep up this momentum and further expand upon what is available locally.”

GBV includes domestic abuse, coercive control, intimate partner violence, rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, harassment, stalking, image-based abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking and so-called “honour-based violence” such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

The partnership said statistics show that the number one risk factor for being subjected to GBV is being a woman. Many men are also subjected to GBV, and children of all genders are often subjected to it, particularly when violence is normalised in the home.

Other factors such as race, disability, sexuality, gender identity or presentation, and poverty, may also increase likelihood of being subjected to GBV. Most violence of this sort, including violence perpetrated against men and boys, is perpetrated by men. However, women can also perpetrate and reinforce gendered violence.

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Ward said: “There is increasing understanding of how this type of violence is fundamentally motivated by deeply held societal beliefs about gender and how it acts as one of the many ways that gender inequality, as well as other inequalities, are maintained and reinforced at both individual and systemic levels.

“Or, as the Scottish Government puts it: ‘GBV cannot be understood in isolation from the norms, social structure, and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence women’s vulnerability to violence’.”

“As the lead partnership coordinating activity in Shetland to tackle GBV, we believe that it is important to acknowledge the wide-ranging nature of this kind of violence, as well as explicitly name and recognise how it stems from and contributes to the ongoing inequality of women and girls in our communities.”

SVAWP will also soon be releasing introductory e-learning on GBV on the Safer Shetland website, which will be available to anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the topic and learn more about what protections and supports are available.

Laura Stronach, service manager at Shetland Women’s Aid and co-chair on SVAWP said: “There has been a year-on-year increase in Shetlanders seeking specialist support for GBV-related issues, indicating that folk feel more able to come forward today than they did in previous years.

“Survivors report that the main reasons they choose not to share what happened to them are: fear for their safety, fear of being disbelieved, fear of being blamed, and not knowing what their options and rights are.

“When people do come forward, it usually means that some of these barriers have been lowered, and this is a hopeful sign that the work being done is making a difference.”

She continued: “The members of SVAWP will continue to work together closely to ensure that this issue is better understood at all levels and that the help available to Shetlanders affected by it is clearly mapped and signposted, evidence-based, co-ordinated, and effectively meets the needs of our communities.

“The availability of more specialised support, better institutional training, more specialist inputs in schools, and ongoing awareness-raising efforts are making a difference, but there is always more work to be done.”

Help available in Shetland for anyone affected by these issues includes:

Shetland Women’s Aid

For women who have experienced or are currently experiencing intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, and/or coercive control, Shetland Women’s Aid provides free and confidential support with refuge, risk-management, establishing safety, one-to-one support, trauma recovery, counselling, and group support.

SWA also provides support for women considering engaging, or currently engaging with, the criminal justice system around these offences.

Its children’s service is for children and young people of all genders and includes practical and emotional support, as well as art and creative therapies.

SWA helps to empower service-users to process their experiences with no expectation to report or leave their situations. People can contact SWA by calling 01595 692070 or emailing

The Compass Centre

The Compass Centre is a service for all non-abusive survivors of sexual harm and violence in Shetland, of all genders, aged 13+. The centre provides free and confidential information, support, and resources, no matter when it happened.

For those looking for someone to speak to, the sexual violence support service and sexual violence counselling service are available.

For those considering reporting, the specialist sexual crime advocacy service provides information and support to help people decide how they wish to proceed, and ongoing advocacy for those navigating the criminal justice process.

People can contact The Compass Centre by calling 01595 747174 Mon-Thurs 9am-1.30pm, emailing, or filling out the referral form.

Safer Shetland

The Safer Shetland Domestic Abuse pages have an extensive list of local and national services that people can contact for support if they are experiencing or at risk of gender based violence. There is also comprehensive information and resources for professionals to support those working in the field of domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARCS)

The SARC, based at Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick, is a self-referral service for anyone, of any gender, aged 16+, who has been recently raped or sexually assaulted.

The service stores forensic medical evidence for up to 26 months, meaning that people do not need to make any immediate decisions about whether to report to the police.

People can refer themselves to a SARC by calling their dedicated number, which is available 24/7 and free from landlines and mobile: 0800 148 88 88.

Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland (DSDAS)

DSDAS gives people the right to ask about the background of their partner and gives Police Scotland the power to tell people that they may be at risk. It also allows concerned relatives and friends the right to ask about someone’s partner.

People can ask if someone has been abusive in the past, which allows for a more informed choice on whether to remain in the relationship. To find out more, phone 101.

For Child and Adult Protection

If someone is concerned that a child or young person is at risk of harm, abuse, or neglect, or that an adult at risk is being subject to abuse or harm, people can contact duty social work Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, on 01595 744 468. Outside of these hours, call 01595 695 611.

Shetland Islands Council Housing Service

The housing service will provide housing advice and support to anyone affected by domestic abuse, including the potential provision of temporary accommodation. The service is available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm by calling 01595 744 360. Where emergency accommodation is required out with office hours, support is available by calling Duty Social Work on 01595 695 611.

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