Domestic abuse procedure
What volunteers, paid staff, ministers, elders, pastoral care visitors, office holders and CrossReach workers need to know and do when a survivor discloses domestic abuse.
When domestic abuse is first disclosed to you
Step 1: Person discloses domestic abuse
Step 2: Respect, listen, inform and empower
Reassure the person that confidentiality will be kept, but explain there is a limit to confidentiality. These are the circumstances in which information may be shared with the police with the person’s knowledge but not necessarily their consent. If serious abuse or a crime has happened and/or the person feels or is in immediate danger, advise them that for their own safety you must contact the police for advice. Once you have informed them of this, immediately contact Police Scotland, social work or the ambulance service.
- Acknowledge the person's account
- Listen attentively and give gentle encouragement to speak
- Assure the person that it is not their fault
- Assure the person of your concern and interest
- Be honest and upfront about your ability to help
- If there are children involved the situation becomes a child protection concern
- Be guided by what the person wants and not what you think they need unless you believe them or others to be at risk of immediate harm
- Let them know that the Church of Scotland has domestic abuse guidance that you need to follow
- Sharing information with the Safeguarding Coordinator, and then the Safeguarding Service, is about equipping the person with support and information so that they are in control and can make their own decisions
Reporting and referral
Immediately tell your Safeguarding Coordinator or line manager, who will contact the Church of Scotland Safeguarding Service for verbal and written advice. This advice includes local help and whether a referral should be made to the police or social work department, or a child wellbeing concern should be made to the Named Person, etc.
Note what has happened, when (time and date), where, and who else was involved. Accurately record the person's or witnesses' own words. Keep the information secure.