Domestic abuse support text service launched

Domestic abuse support text service launched

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (SDAFMH) has launched a new SMS and WhatsApp service to support those experiencing domestic abuse or forced marriage.

The 24/7 service – available from today on 07401 288595 will be the first of its kind offering domestic abuse support in Scotland, and adds to the Helpline’s existing provision of 24/7 phone, email and web chat support.

It has been designed in partnership with survivors of domestic abuse across Scotland, including members of Scottish Women’s Aid’s Survivor Reference Group.

The expert team running the Helpline hope that it will encourage contact from younger people experiencing domestic abuse after research last year discovered that over a third (36%) of young women had been in an intimate relationship with someone who was abusive or harmed them physically or emotionally.

The new SMS and WhatsApp service was developed after SDAFMH was awarded a National Lottery ‘Improving Lives’ community grant to expand and develop its digital communication channels as part of its 24/7 helpline service.

It will provide information, advice and support to people of all ages, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, nationalities and backgrounds requiring support around domestic abuse or forced marriage. Services can be provided in English or through a translation facility.

The addition of SMS and WhatsApp options will allow people to access information and support quickly and discreetly anywhere, at a time that best suits them and without the fear of being overheard.

Shai Jacobs, Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline manager, said: “We have heard from survivors that safety and discretion was their priority when trying to get support for domestic abuse or forced marriage.”

They added: “There has been huge enthusiasm for a service where you can type a message in 10 seconds, pop a phone back in your pocket and check again when it’s safe. This will allow people to talk to us during those precious moments of privacy which can often be so rare when experiencing domestic abuse.”

A member of Scottish Women’s Aid’s Survivor Reference Group added: “When I was at my lowest point but knew I needed help, I couldn’t find my way through the chaos of everyday life to reach out to any service or professional. Having the option to use a text service in addition to phone and online services is vital, because sometimes creating a message by text is less painful than speaking by phone.

“It is important that women have the option to use a variety of methods to seek help because when your life is dominated by power and control you are limited in what you can do and are monitored. Making the first move to leave an abusive relationship is all-consuming. Scottish Women’s Aid have planned this service to ensure that reaching out for support is inclusive to all - with the safety of women the top priority.”

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