Ricky Henderson: Domestic abuse play raises awareness

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Ricky Henderson says a new play on domestic abuse has upped his resolve to tackle the problem blighting numerous lives across the Capital

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is often associated with comedy and light-hearted entertainment, but as I found recently it is also a unique platform to raise awareness of serious issues in a way that statistics and news reports just cannot convey.

I am acutely aware of the impact of domestic abuse, not only on its victims but on their children and society as whole. I know that the statistics are shocking and that in Edinburgh alone the number of these incidents reported has been rising steadily for the last few years.

However, seeing it brought to life by the hard-hitting play Our Glass House in a disused council house in Wester Hailes brought home the human cost behind these statistics and reinforced my resolve that more has to be done for victims.

It provided a stark reminder that in around 45 per cent of reported domestic abuse cases, children are present or resident in the home where it has taken place. This represents one of the most serious risks to children in our society and can have an impact on their longer term development and wellbeing.

You don’t have to look far for the devastating impact of domestic abuse on our children. It is a theme that often features heavily in the lives of children on the Child Protection Register, young offenders and pupils who display disruptive or bullying behaviour in the classroom.

Perhaps even more worryingly, experiencing domestic abuse has the potential to shape their attitudes and beliefs as adults, so the cycle continues.

This cycle can only be broken by adopting a multi-agency approach, and this is what we have been working on – developing a strategy to tackle domestic abuse in all its forms. It is vital that we work together to make sure we respond quickly and effectively to support victims and challenge the perpetrators.

Domestic abuse is never acceptable and should not be tolerated. No woman or man should live in a climate of fear and we must ensure that victims feel they can come forward and then make sure they are protected and supported when they do.

• Councillor Ricky Henderson is health and wellbeing convener for Edinburgh City Council