Lochaber group’s vital role supporting women
‘WE LISTEN, we support and we understand,’ says Lorraine Revitt, service manager at Lochaber Women’s Aid, who has been telling The Oban
Times what the organisation is doing to raise awareness of domestic abuse in Lochaber.
One of only four groups in the Highlands, Lochaber Women’s Aid is the only specialised service in the area and covers all of Lochaber from Appin to Fort Augustus and all the small isles.
Lorraine said: ‘ With only four groups in the Highlands it is extremely important that these services are available. For Lochaber, this service is vital because we are the only specialised service in the area.’
Ms Revitt spoke of how the charity is continually striving to raise awareness of domestic abuse: ‘We have been very active recently, putting stickers on pub doors and going round places to make sure there is an awareness of the service.
‘We also run small workshops with other organisations, including community councils and employers, to let them know what we do and to let them know what the signs and symptoms of abuse are.’
Award-winning journalist and leading figure in the campaign to end domestic violence Anni Donaldson told
The Oban Times: ‘The problem for women in rural areas is they can become quite isolated if they are far away from help. Fear of stigma and trying to keep anonymity can also be
Domestic abuse is not an urban issue Anni Donaldson journalist and campaigner
problems. But domestic abuse is not an urban issue. It affects everyone across the board.’
Ms Revitt added: ‘I don’t think you can say any area would have more or less of a problem. Domestic abuse happens everywhere. It happens across all sorts of social standings, jobs and age. There is no typical person who becomes a victim of domestic abuse.
‘I think there are difficulties living in close-knit communities which does effect people coming forward at times, but it all depends on the individual. Some people are happy to come for support as soon as they think they are in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship, but others won’t come forward for years. It might be years after it’s happened they reach a point they can’t keep it to themselves any longer. Everyone is very different in how they deal with it. But the importance of having a confidential service is crucial to women. They have to be reassured that when they come to talk to us that we believe them and support their choices.’
Lochaber Women’s Aid is a discreet charity because of the nature of the work involved.
‘Women who engage with us want to keep that confidential,’ said Lorraine. ‘ We want to keep a low profile, while still letting people know the organisation is there for them.
‘Women can be with the service for a few days, a few weeks or even years – it’s up to them. All their support is directed by them. We don’t tell women what to do, because that would just be another form of control. We want to empower women and give them confidence to make their own choices. It might not always be choices we agree with or would advise, but it’s their choice and that’s what is important.
‘We would never judge or make comment on any woman’s decision. We are always here to offer support and help when they need it, but it’s all about their choice and that is fundamental. If you are coming from a controlled relationship, the last thing you want is to come here and have someone else control what you’re now going to do.’
The organisation also offers support for children who may have been affected by abuse or who have witnessed it at home. Ms Revitt said: ‘Children can be referred by their mums or teachers or they can come along themselves. Their mum doesn’t need to be on the service. They can come along completely independently. We support children to understand what is a healthy relationship and how to keep within the home and in relationships in general.’
MP for Skye, Ross and Lochaber Ian Blackford said: ‘I met with the team from Lochaber Women’s Aid just before the election and was very impressed by what they do and their forward planning to both help local women and children in threatening and difficult relationships and to raise the levels of awareness of these issues.’
The organisation arranges fundraising events to generate money for activities and days out for the women and children who use the service.
On Tuesday October 25 it is hosting an event at the railway club in Inverlochy when Naomi Breeze will be performing a thought-provoking act about domestic abuse and how it effects women.
Entitled Kaleidoscope, the event is based on real-life experiences of women living in the Highlands.
Lorraine Revitt, service manager at Lochaber Women’s Aid.