Fresh voice for Borders victims of domestic abuse

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A DVD featuring the voices of survivors of domestic abuse in the Borders was launched this week.

More than 60 people attended the launch of the Hear our Voice DVD at Scottish Borders Council HQ in Newtown St Boswells on Tuesday.

All of the women who feature are now free of their abusive relationships, and their hopes for this DVD are that people understand that it is difficult to leave everything behind and that they rely heavily on people responding appropriately.

The aim of the film is to raise awareness in training, across communities, in services, with staff teams and community groups. The DVD also contains a resource pack to support its use as a training resource and information on support services.

Welcoming guests to the launch, Rob Dickson, the council’s director of environment and infrastructure, said the DVD was an important piece of thought-provoking work, and provides a turning point for the local authority and its partner organisations to consider the service it offers in relation to domestic abuse.

“The Safer Communities team has worked tirelessly since 2010 to create this film and to give the four survivors a voice and a platform to tell their stories,” he added.

“There are persistent and rising challenges with alcohol abuse, antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse. We all have to ask ourselves if we are doing as much as we can to provide the best service possible. We are in a rural setting and the challenges are multi-faceted and multi-agency – it is crucial that we connect up the services to assist the survivors.”

Andrea Beavon, Violence Against Women co-ordinator and a major force behind the creation of the film, gave some background and described the DVD as “the end and the beginning”.

She said: “The film has taken 18 months of work with our partner agencies, the film crew and the women who told their stories. This is now completed and our intention is to take this work forward and to share it with partners and community groups, and to use it as a training tool to improve the linked-up service which we can all offer.

“The main message from these inspiring women is that living with domestic abuse was not a choice they made and they needed help to get back on their feet, and that if the making of this film can save one more family from a life of misery it will have done its job.”

Councillor Alec Nicol, chair of the Scottish Borders Community Safety Partnership, added: “We are extremely grateful to the survivors for their courage in speaking openly about this topic. This will enable agencies and community groups to respond more effectively in the future.”