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Barriers to the Provision and Use of Domestic Abuse Services in Rural Scotland

Domestic abuse survivors and service providers in both urban and rural areas confront a multitude of barriers in both the use and provision of services. Domestic abuse service provision in Scotland is acclaimed both within the UK and internationally. Nevertheless very little research has been conducted in Scotland into the barriers to service provision and use faced by rural survivors and service providers. Past research from Australia, Canada and the USA illustrates that distinguished barriers to service provision and use exist in rural areas.

This paper outlines a small-scale qualitative study that sets out to explore rural barriers to service provision and use in rural Scotland. Data collection consisted of one to one interviews with five service providers from Women’s Aid and the NHS operating in two local authorities in central Scotland. The findings were analysed using theories on privacy, space and community relations and a ‘circumstantial’ explanatory framework.

The study revealed that service providers recognise unique rural barriers to service provision and use. Rural barriers included survivor anonymity, resource difficulties and rural attitudes and culture. In addition barriers shared by both urban and rural areas were identified and included fear of family break up, service availability and child protection obligations. Informants spoke of the rural barriers to service provision and use as they apply to a survivor group. Shared barriers on the other hand applied to survivors and service providers as individuals.

Application of the circumstantial framework revealed that community is the most active variable behind the rural barriers, both on its own and in conjunction with other variables. From the use of the theoretical channels, it was concluded that community is a force, which strips survivors of their ability to independently control their own actions. Resource allocation was revealed to have the same consequences for service providers.

It is recommended that future sociological studies should use frameworks that differentiate between group and individual barriers to determine if rural barriers transcend the divide between group and individual context. To explore rural service provision and use effectively, researchers must be have insight into the difficulties rural survivors face in disclosing abuse. The research highlighted that service providers have a strong knowledge of rural barriers. Both sociologists and policy researchers should invest more time and resources in exploring service providers’ experiences and creating an information base with which to inform and audit policy on service provision.

 

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Barriers to the Provision and Use of Domestic Abuse Services in Rural Scotland.pdf
Added: February 5, 2015
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