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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 06:51 GMT
Abuse campaign to be widened
By Elizabeth Quigley
BBC Scotland

Dolls House advert
Scottish adverts have had an impact
The Home Office looks set to follow Scotland's lead and fund a domestic abuse awareness campaign south of the border.

The UK Government has never used television and radio adverts in England to highlight domestic violence.

However, the success of Scottish campaigns means Westminster politicians are now considering adopting a similar technique.

Since Boxing Day, the Scottish Executive's latest advert aimed at raising awareness of domestic abuse has prompted almost 2,000 people to call for help - either for themselves or for a friend or family member.

The advert focuses on domestic abuse through the eyes of a child and the accompanying website has received nearly 4,000 queries.

I think it's encouraging that more women are now feeling able to come forward to talk about their experiences of violence and abuse
Oona Hay, Glasgow Rape Crisis
The advert shows a young girl playing with her dolls - acting out a scenario where a father shouts at a mother.

The girl's own mother sits nearby clearly distressed by the role-playing which the viewer is led to believe mirrors real-life events so accurately.

The campaign's success in raising awareness of domestic abuse and encouraging people to come forward for advice has been closely followed by politicians south of the border where there is no similar government-funded campaign.

According to sources within the Home Office, a similar campaign is now definitely being considered for England.

Chris Wallace, the advertising director of Barkers, the agency responsible for the latest campaign, has been talking to the Home Office about its work for the executive.

He said: "We are in discussions with the Home Office. There are meetings planned and we have also been in regular contact with them throughout our campaign development.

Woman on phone
The executive said victim support is vital
"They would be interested in it primarily because they are interested in best practice and our campaign has been very successful.

"We have managed to turn it (attitudes to domestic abuse) around so it is something akin to drink-driving where it affects us all and where it is a black and white issue.

"It is wrong and it should stop where it occurs."

But being successful in terms of a slick advertising campaign and large numbers calling the helplines is clearly not enough to help the victims of domestic abuse.

The executive said it has recognised the need for support such as refuges in helping women and children escape from abusive relationships.

Millions of pounds will be spent on a three-year programme to build and upgrade refuges. Thirteen have been approved so far and another 16 are in the pipeline.

'Adequate funding'

Oona Hay of Glasgow Rape Crisis said these frontline services are crucial.

She welcomed the fact that more callers are contacting the helpline, but she stressed that there had to be more than just a phone line.

Ms Hay said: "I think it's encouraging that more women are now feeling able to come forward to talk about their experiences of violence and abuse.

"But it must be recognised that adequate funding needs to be in place for services providing this kind of support to women.

"Otherwise it can be a very disappointing experience for women when they do have the courage to come forward and talk about what's happened to them if they are then unable to access the kind of support that they need to enable them to move on."

The effect of domestic abuse on children is often overlooked but Barnardo's Scotland is highlighting their concerns with the publication of a report entitled "Bitter Legacy".



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SEE ALSO:
Drive to tackle domestic abuse
23 Dec 02 |  Scotland


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