Domestic abuse survivors share first-hand experience in film

Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are up 25% since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Survivors of domestic abuse have created a film for girls and young women experiencing coercive control during the Covid-19 lockdown.

A panel of children and teenagers who have first-hand experience of the issue were involved in every stage of the creative process.

The new film is aimed at highlighting some of the ways young people might be experiencing domestic abuse and guides them to Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline for support.

The new short animation, produced by Media Co-op, was launched by Scottish Women’s Aid on Wednesday.

Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are up 25% since the lockdown began, while research by Counting Dead Women found the number of deaths due to domestic abuse have increased.

Perpetrators have greater opportunities for surveillance and control as they know where their partner or ex-partner is likely to be at any given time.

The closure of schools has also meant some children do not have access to safe spaces or trusted adults outside their families.

Kirsty, one of the young experts from the panel, said: “I want young people to watch this video and realise that they’re not alone; they’re not the only ones feeling like this, and I want this video to show them that there is help available and there are people that want to help them through this.

“Overall, I just want every young person out there to be happy and safe, and hopefully this video will shine light as to how to get help and feel better.”

Sue McKellar, of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “The messages in this animation have come directly from young people we work with, who were so keen to reach out to other children and young people to let them know they are not alone.

“There is help and support available to them when they choose to talk.

“Each young person has had a positive experience of being listened to by Women’s Aid staff and wanted to encourage others to reach out to the national helpline for support.”

Claire Dean, director of Media Co-Op, said: “We started with a virtual workshop, where the Media Co-Op team listened to the young people telling us what would help others in a similar situation.

“The overriding messages were ‘you’re not alone’ and ‘we’re here for you’.

“The result is an authentic and vital peer-to-peer message that we hope will reach young people who desperately need help and support.”

Meanwhile, Barnardo’s has released a video highlighting the importance of supporting the mental health of pupils during the pandemic.

The film, a collaboration between Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland, highlights practical examples and tips that education staff can build into their everyday practice to support positive relationships with young people.

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “It is imperative that when children return to school we prioritise their mental health and emotional wellbeing.”

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