Dundee Women’s Aid – Hard to reach groups

Challenge Sponsor

Dundee Women’s Aid has been supporting women, children and young people who are experiencing Domestic Abuse for over 40 years. As an organisation they provide a range of services including information, support and temporary refuge accommodation. They provide a confidential, and non-judgemental service to women, young people and children who have experienced domestic abuse. The abuse may be from a partner, ex-partner or someone a woman is living with.

The Challenge

‘Whilst we do engage with some hard to reach groups it’s something we want to improve on , especially targeting young people experience domestic abuse in their own relationships, the LGBT community who identify as women, gypsy travellers, disabled women especially deaf women and women who don’t speak or understand English’

Here’s some case studies to illustrate the issues:


Lucy aged 15 lives at home with her mum. Her father is absent due to domestic abuse. Lucy remembers vividly violent domestics between her mum and dad her safe place was on top of her wardrobe. Lucy is a keen swimmer and attends swimming club three times per week. Recently Lucy started seeing Nathan. He is all she can talk about. He understands her and she tells him everything. He grew up in care and has a volatile relationship with his mum. He does not know his dad. Lucy and Nathan are always together, Lucy has started to miss swimming because Nathan doesn’t like to be alone. Nathan is 19 and lives alone so Lucy spends most of her time there. Lucy’s mum is getting worried and has asked Lucy to keep up with her swimming. They are now arguing more and more. Lucy tells her she doesn’t understand her relationship with Nathan. Nathan wants Lucy to move in with her so they can be together all of the time. Due to all the rowing at home Lucy decides to go for it. Lucy has now stopped swimming altogether and is not in communication with her mum or friends. At first living with Nathan was fun but now its scary and lonely. She can’t tell her mum that he is angry all of the time because she will tell her she told her so. Lucy is feeling really isolated and trapped. She has no one to speak to for help, she thinks she is pregnant.

What can we do better that means Lucy will want to engage with us?


Emma is a white British woman with a learning disability who is in her early 30s. She lives in a rented accommodation provided by a housing association, but is not currently receiving any social care support.

Emma’s situation has been brought to the attention of social care by the police, who reported a safeguarding concern about Emma’s ex-partner, Darren. Emma has tried to break up with Darren numerous times, but he always ends up living back in her flat with her. His behaviour is putting her tenancy at risk.

This case study concerns issues around supporting people who have a learning disability and are experiencing domestic abuse; financial abuse; and using threats to coerce someone back into a relationship.

How can we reach out to Emma?


Ayesha is an older British Asian woman who has some physical health concerns. She is a widow and lives with her son, Bilal. There are concerns that Ayesha may be experiencing coercive control from Bilal; a pattern which repeats Ayesha’s experience with her husband who is now deceased.

This case study considers issues around working with Asian communities, specifically Pakistani Asian women; cultural capability; reflecting on the values and knowledge that we bring to situations, and working with older victims of domestic abuse.

What can we do to ensure Ayesha knows we are here to help her?


Tanya is a 39 year old Transgender woman who has just arrived in Dundee for the first time. She fled from England when her partner threatened to kill her. She has very little money, no job and no close friends, the only family she has in Dundee rejected her when she ‘came out’ as a woman.

Tanya’s story shares many similarities with anyone else who is trying to escape an abusive relationship. However, Tanya’s situation has some extra layers of complexity and multiple risk factors that would not be shared by the majority of heterosexual, cis-gender (a person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth) women who are fleeing an abusive relationship. These complexities become barriers to accessing both formal and informal support and reporting to the police.

How can we attract Tanya into our service?

Check out the Dundee Women’s Aid Website for more information about their work.