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What is Gender-Based Violence?

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The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre provides legal and advocacy services for women survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). We aim to be inclusive and welcoming to all women. For more information, you can read our inclusion statement.

'Gender-based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.’ – Equally Safe

Gender-based violence is a term that is used to describe crimes such as rape, domestic abuse, stalking, and forced marriage that are overwhelmingly but not exclusively carried out by men against women. It is a symptom of the historic and current inequalities of power that exist in society.


There are many ways in which gender-based violence can cause harm. It can be physical, financial, emotional, sexual, or cause harm and suffering in other ways. What all forms of gender-based violence have in common is that they stem from and reinforce gender inequality.

Some examples of gender-based violence include:

These crimes can happen in public or private life. Threats also count as forms of gender-based violence.

'Violence against women' is a term often used interchangeably with gender-based violence. This is because it is widely acknowledged that the majority of persons affected by gender-based violence are women and girls, as a result of unequal distribution of power in society between women and men.


What are my legal options?

We have resources and appropriate signposting available on our ‘For Survivors’ page. For information on reporting, we have a resource tailored to reporting sexual violence.


Looking for helpful resources on gender-based violence?

We have an inclusion statement available for you to view.

We also have a variety of legal guides on different forms of gender-based violence.


Useful contacts


Sexual Violence and Abuse

Rape Crisis Scotland

The RCS Helpline is available daily from 5pm – midnight offering free and confidential support and information to survivors of sexual violence, their friends, relatives and workers.

Trauma Counselling Line Scotland

The Trauma Counselling Line Scotland is a confidential telephone counselling to any adult who experienced abuse as a child. This can include sexual, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual abuse or neglect. It works on an appointment basis. Appointments can be made by calling during opening hours (Mon-Wed: 5pm–8pm, Thurs & Fri: 9am-2pm)

SAY Women

SAY Women is a voluntary organisation which offers safe, supported accommodation and related services for young women, aged 16-25 years, who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault and who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline is available 24/7 offering support and advice to anyone affected by domestic abuse or forced marriage. For information on your local Women’s Aid group or on refuge accommodation please visit Scottish Women’s Aid.

Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre

The Helpline is a listening ear and signposting service for Muslim women across Scotland. It is free from mobiles and landlines and will not appear on your phone bill. All calls are strictly confidential and non-judgemental; Amina will always deal with clients in a faith and culturally-sensitive manner.

Amina can help women in English, Urdu, Arabic, Bangla and Swahili and, when required, using online interpreting.

Hemat Gryffe

Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid provide specialist support to women from the Asian, Black and Minority ethnic community who experience domestic abuse influenced by culture and tradition.


Saheliya is a specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area.

Shakti Women's Aid

Shakti Women’s Aid helps BME women, children and young people experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse from a partner, ex-partner and/or other members of the household.

Galop - LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline

Opening times:

10am – 8pm Monday
10am – 5pm Tuesday
10am – 5pm Wednesday
10am – 8pm Thursday
1pm – 5pm Friday
(1pm – 5pm Tuesday is trans specific service).

The National Stalking Helpline

The National Stalking Helpline is available on weekdays between 9.30am and 4pm, excepting Wednesdays when it is available 1-4pm. Offering support and information if you or someone you know is being made to feel harassed or intimidated by the behaviour of another person or is at risk of emotional or physical harm.

Sexual Exploitation


Encompass is a Scottish network of agencies working with people at risk of becoming involved in, who are currently involved in, or who have exited selling or exchanging sexual activity/commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). The safety and well-being of those involved in commercial sexual exploitation / selling or exchanging sex is of prime concern to all Encompass agencies. The agencies are located in different areas across Scotland and details can be found on the website.



I still have questions – what can I do?

When it comes to gender-based violence, we understand that each situation is very different. If you have specific questions about the legal options available to you, please get in touch with us.

At the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre we have helplines and legal surgeries available by video call or over the phone, and we take on some cases for legal representation within the civil justice process. We only can consider your case through our take on process as currently we only represent in a limited capacity.


In immediate danger or looking to report?

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 999. If you are not in immediate danger but would like to report, call the Police on 101. Alternatively, you can fill out Police Scotland’s online form. Police Scotland respond and investigate reports of criminal activity, this includes various forms of gender-based violence.

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08088 010 789

Our daytime helpline is currently available:

Our evening helpline, staffed by pro-bono solicitors who can provide initial advice, is currently available:

For up-to-date availability including any upcoming closures, please click here.