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Domestic abuse and trauma informed practice: new CPD training video launched for solicitors in Scotland

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) has today launched a training video for solicitors, which discusses the benefits of a trauma-informed practice when working with those who have experienced domestic abuse. Funded by the Scottish Government, the free online video and CPD questions are now available on the Law Society of Scotland’s website.

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which came into force in April, makes it easier to prosecute the full spectrum of abuse that victims may suffer. This has heightened the importance of legal professionals understanding the range of coercive and controlling behaviours that may be experienced by victims as well as their ability to work sensitively with those affected by this devastating experience.

This newly released CPD training was developed with the support of a panel of experts which included mental health professionals specialising in trauma-informed approaches, solicitors and legal academics with expertise in domestic abuse, and Scottish Women’s Aid.

The video covers key points of Scotland’s new Domestic Abuse law, it explains how trauma can affect those who have experienced domestic abuse, and highlights good practice when working with survivors as well as the potential impact of vicarious trauma on legal professionals.

To complement this training, the SWRC will release approved training for solicitors on domestic abuse and the law later this year.

Katy Mathieson, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre Co-ordinator, said:

“The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre is delighted to have worked with key partners to develop this new resource for solicitors. In our experience, understanding the impact of trauma is as important as understanding the law when it comes to representing clients who have lived or are living with domestic abuse.

“Our Centre is committed to sharing practice and improving women’s experience of the justice process and, in addition to the 1 hour CPD provided by this training video, we offer access to further training which expands on these themes, including a 2-day approved training course which we will announce in the coming months.”

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said:

“This resource for solicitors will raise-awareness of the range of coercive and controlling behaviours that may be experienced by victims of domestic abuse and will enhance their ability to work sensitively with those affected by this devastating experience.

“The current impact of Covid-19 has magnified the difficulties that may be faced by families who are living through domestic abuse.

“This animation reinforces the Scottish Government’s commitment to developing a trauma-informed workforce in Scotland, and highlights the importance of embedding a common understanding of domestic abuse – both the technical aspects of the law, but also the long term impact that it can have on victims.

“I hope this animation will encourage solicitors to consider the impacts of trauma on their clients, the potential impact of vicarious trauma for themselves and promote good practice when working with survivors.”

Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said:

“It is very important that Scottish solicitors can be as fully informed as possible in advising their clients, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society. As a member of the Scottish Government’s Victims and Witnesses Taskforce I have learned just how vital it is that we seek to do what we can to understand victims’ experiences, and ensure their voices can be heard in our work to improve our justice system. I’m sure that this new CPD offering for solicitors will be extremely helpful, allowing our members to better understand the needs of clients who have been affected by trauma as they seek to provide the legal advice and support required.”

Louise Johnson, Legal Issues Policy Worker at Scottish Women's Aid, said:

"For women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, securing timely access to appropriately informed and trained legal professionals is often an uphill struggle. A solid understanding of the dynamics and traumatic impact of domestic abuse, particularly coercive control, and how this affects women, children and young people at every stage of the process makes a huge, positive difference to a solicitor’s response to their client.

"With the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, we have a world-leading piece of legislation that captures the realities of domestic abuse that women and children have been telling us about for decades. At Scottish Women’s Aid we deliver specialist training on all aspects of domestic abuse, and we recognise how valuable good training and information is. It is vital that those within our Scottish legal system understand the impact of coercive control and trauma-informed, domestic abuse-aware solicitors are a key part in that. We are pleased to have been involved in the creation of this training animation and very much welcome the launch of this important resource."


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