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The History of Women's Aid in Scotland Since its inception in 1973 Women's Aid has been at the forefront of the domestic abuse debate. The feminist analysis of violence against women as a reflection of the power imbalance in society has largely informed the development of work in Scotland over the last 30 years. The beginning of this process found women activists keen to move beyond theorising to providing practical help and support.

Women's Liberation Movement activists from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland's two largest cities, visited a 'safe house' for what was then termed 'battered women' in Chiswick, London in 1973. This visit resulted in the women from Scotland approaching local authorities in Edinburgh and Glasgow to provide similar accommodation. This request initiated scepticism from the local authorities and the belief that this 'problem' did not happen in Scotland and that the provision was not required. However, the women persevered and with the support of the social work department convinced the local authorities that the need existed. The result was that Women's Aid was formed and the first refuges (the term used in Scotland for safe houses/shelters) opened in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1973.

In the early years, women trying to leave an abusive partner had very few options and help from statutory agencies was virtually impossible to get. Women who reported incidents and tried to get help were dismissed as time wasters and the incidents wer dismissed as trivial. The attitude of many of those working for statutory agencies was that women should go back home and make it up and that violence in the home was something which did not happen in their area. The women involved in the refuge movement were determined not to replicate such attitudes. The women in the first groups, and those who have followed then recognised clearly that any women can be at risk from domestic abuse. Regardless of class, race, religious or ethnic group, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.

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