MORE THAN 2,650 victims who have been at risk of significant harm due to domestic abuse have been helped by a ground-breaking initiative in Fife for the last 10 years.

Since it was set up a decade a go, MARAC – a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing process – has helped identify high-risk domestic abuse victims and, by agencies working together, has reduced the risks of further incidents and harm to others, including children.

It is a fundamental right to feel safe at home, yet in 2019:

* 437 individuals (including 421 women) were assessed as being very high-risk, involving 451 babies, children and young people

* 19 per cent of victims report stalking.

* 32 per cent of cases involved a weapon.

* Every MARAC meeting heard about cases of strangulation.

One person who has been helped by MARAC shared their story, saying: “Going through the MARAC process got me support from Fife Women’s Aid.

"I would never have asked for help had I not been referred by MARAC.

"I had a home security review and police marked my address so it was known there was domestic abuse which helped me feel safer at the time.

"Being believed and having the support for me and my children has helped us heal and come to terms with our experience, and has given me the confidence to go on.

"I have now started a college course in social care and would like to help others. The whole process has made me feel safer and more confident.”

Domestic abuse is a gendered crime primarily affecting women and children many of whom are not safe in their own homes and continue to be harassed long after leaving their abuser.

It is characterised by escalation in severity and frequency – it is about misuse of power and coercive control and high-risk cases are identified across the whole of Fife.

Fife Council’s community and housing services convener, Councillor Judy Hamilton, said: “MARAC makes a significant contribution to tackling domestic abuse in Fife.

“It’s entirely unacceptable that anyone should be experiencing domestic abuse.

“The multi-agency nature of MARAC means that all the partners can work together with families to recognise the best way forward together.

"It’s very empowering for families to have the support of many partners – and I thank all of our partners who work to tackle domestic abuse in all its forms – and make Fife a safer place.“

Scott Cunningham, Detective Chief Inspector with Police Scotland, concluded: “I would like to acknowledge this 10-year milestone and the joined contribution and commitment by agencies to support victims of domestic abuse in Fife.

"Domestic abuse is despicable and debilitating which affects all of our communities and has no respect for ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

“Domestic abuse is everyone’s business and no one organisation/service can address it on their own. Therefore, there is no doubt that the positive collaborative working with MARAC partners is key to reduce the harm caused by domestic abuse and to prevent further abuse from taking place.”

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, help is still available 24/7. Please call 999 in an emergency.