Lochaber group’s vi­tal role sup­port­ing women

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

‘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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.