However, we quickly realised that dentists were not the only professionals who were in a great position to offer help and we quickly expanded the training to include vets (animals are often abused to coerce or punish the human victim), fire officers (deliberate fire raising is not infrequently used to intimidate victims), medical and dental students (because if you teach students this falls within their remit and give them skills early they are more likely to take action) hairdressers (this may the only place a female victim gets to go on her own) and doctors (who we quickly discovered felt unsure how to help just like the rest of us). All of these professionals may have the opportunity to see victims of abuse alone and can often provide a lifeline.
Since the new funding was announced we have been heartened to receive requests for training from professionals we had not originally considered such as student support services, teachers, lawyers and those working in the financial sector as well as people who visit people in their own homes at times of domestic crisis such as gas board workers. This brought it home to us that not only do we recognise that this is everyone’s issue, so do others. This has made us more hopeful that the training we provide will reach a wide audience and potentially allow even more people living with abuse the chance to access help.
AVDR is an opportunistic intervention delivered at the point of care. It takes advantage of an interaction between a victim of abuse and a professional with whom there is a trusted relationship at a time when either the victim’s behaviour or physical signs of possible abuse give cause for concern. Often this will not be at a time of crisis, but maybe during a routine check up with a dentist or doctor, or visit to the vet, or a discussion with a nurse checking observations on a ward and it is important that professionals have the skills to capitalise on these everyday situations in order to offer support and that victims understand that there are many places they can seek support.
AVDR is also a simple intervention; professionals work within their comfort zone and utilise their existing skill set. This is key to giving them both the confidence and the motivation to reach out to victims of abuse. The information given, alongside training in the intervention itself, is tailored to each professional group taking into account their regulatory framework and this helps to allay fears and provides strategies to deal with issues around confidentiality, documentation and reporting. The training is provided by members of their professional peer group which adds further reassurance around professional concerns.
NICE recently issued guidance on domestic abuse. ‘Domestic violence and abuse: how health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively’. It makes a clear recommendation that health and social care professionals should have specific training in how to respond to domestic violence and abuse. This was a great step forward and along with our new funding gives Medics against Violence the opportunity to explore connections with other spheres of health, including with our allied health professional colleagues.
Dr Gerbert wrote. ‘You have done a remarkable job in one of my favourite countries in the world! It warms my heart to hear the progress you’ve made and to know my work planted the seeds that began your strong efforts. And I am honoured and excited to know you thought to update me on this progress. During my active career, feedback was very important to me, knowing what others, nationally and internationally, were doing to reduce family violence, and if relevant, how my materials were used. I think only in this way can we keep spreading the word of what is happening and what efforts are succeeding and where. This networking is vital to making lasting changes, as you know.’
Note on training.
Our training is offered free of charge and there will be approximately 6 multi-professional courses across Scotland in the coming year. Our courses are ‘train the trainers’ courses. For more information on the training or if you are in a position to help us with training locally as a volunteer trainer please contact
Christine Goodall Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Linden email@example.com
For press enquiries please contact Claire Stewart Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org