Practice guidance

Organisations to contact for advice

Across Scotland, violence against women partnerships work to support multi-agency initiatives on tackling GBV. At a national level, the Scottish Government Equality Unit leads on this agenda. 

Scottish Women’s Aid is Scotland’s lead organisation working on the elimination of domestic abuse. It has a key role in campaigning for effective responses to domestic abuse. Its members are local women’s aid groups which provide refuge accommodation, support and information to women and children.

Rape Crisis Scotland is the national office for the rape crisis movement. It supports the work of local centres. It provides training, consultancy and information, and works with other agencies to improve responses to sexual violence. It campaigns to challenge attitudes to sexual violence. As part of this campaigning, new resources and a helpline have been introduced in 2015 to support LGBTI survivors of sexual violence. 

Practice guidance

There is a range of practice guidance on all forms of gender-based violence for practitioners available on the gender-based violence and health website.

Useful guidance includes:

The AVA project lists a range of good practice guidance and toolkits on its website. 

Although there have been many successful interventions designed to provide effective responses to GBV, replicating these across services has often been limited by the scope or range of the studies. 

Advocacy is likely to be of benefit to women experiencing domestic abuse. A Cochrane review (2009) of ten randomised controlled trials of advocacy for intimate partner abuse concluded that intensive advocacy could reduce physical abuse, although its effect on mental health, whilst reported as positive in most trials, was equivocal.

A randomised controlled trial of 1,044 women in the US using a psycho-behavioural intervention during pregnancy had demonstrable impacts on levels of domestic abuse and pregnancy outcomes. It recommended routine enquiry of abuse and the incorporation of similar interventions in antenatal care.

A recent randomised control cluster trial in primary care in the UK tested a model to improve the identification of domestic abuse, and enhance the safety of victims. The intervention group recorded three times more identification than the control group, and significant improvements in health outcomes.

In Scotland, the NHS has introduced routine enquiry of domestic abuse in a number of settings. Evaluation reports on the implementation of this approach can be found on the GBV website.

NHS Scotland has produced a specific employee policy on Gender Based Violence in view of the detrimental impact of abuse on health and wellbeing, which may in turn affect attendance, performance and productivity. The GBV Employee Partnership Information Network (PIN) policy demonstrates the commitment of the organisation to improving the safety and welfare of all staff affected by abuse and is being adopted by health boards across Scotland.

Case Studies

NHS Lanarkshire – supporting employees with training resources

NHS Lanarkshire has developed a DVD for use as a resource in training sessions on gender-based violence with employees. The DVD shows examples of good and poor practice in asking about domestic abuse and is accompanied by written guidance for facilitators with prompts to stimulate discussion.

NHS Forth Valley – supporting mental health workers

A gender-based violence interest group has been established within a mental health team in NHS Forth Valley. The group meets regularly to:

  • share experiences of responding to disclosure
  • discuss challenging or complex cases
  • listen to guest speakers, and
  • explore links between gender-based violence and other issues, such as self harm. 



Updated July 2015

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