We have come a long way since the 1970s when campaigners had to wave placards outside the City Chambers to secure support for services to help “battered women”.
Forty years ago, it was a revolutionary idea that such problems were widespread, and that specialist services were needed to help the victims. Many were unconvinced it was the place of public services to interfere in what went on behind the closed doors of a family home.
There are few clearer signs of the way attitudes have changed than the growth of Edinburgh’s Women’s Aid from a team of dedicated volunteers to a crucial lifeline service with 30 paid staff.
But before we spend too long congratulating ourselves on how much more compassionate and aware we are these days, we should stop to consider the facts.
Today, nearly 11,000 incidents of domestic abuse are reported in Lothian and the Borders every year – that is a new case on average every three-quarters of an hour.
The vast majority of women who are abused in their own homes suffer a catalogue of threats and violence. But, despite that, four new victims come forward every day.
These are truly horrifying statistics. And ones that should continue to challenge how we think about domestic abuse.
It is far more prevalent than most of us realise. It is estimated that one in four women suffers some kind of domestic abuse at some time in their lives.
How many of us, if we are honest, have a picture in our mind’s eye of a “battered wife” which conforms to certain stereotypes? Is the woman you imagine badly dressed because she can’t afford better clothes? Does she look like a broken woman, unable to hide the abuse she has been suffering?
The truth is that victims of domestic abuse come from all walks of life. Whether you realise or not, you probably know some victims. All suffer terribly and all need our support. Please help us to help them this Christmas. Turn to pages 12 and 13 to find out how.