An exploration into the perspectives of occupational therapists working with women who have experienced domestic abuse regarding their perspectives on the existing scope of practice
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Domestic abuse can have detremental effects on an individuals life. Between 2017 and 2018, 59,541 incidents of domestic abuse were reported in Scotland, of which, the vast majority of the victims in these cases were women. Physical, verbal, psychological, sexual or financial abuse by a current or ex-partner in any environment all constitutes as domestic abuse. It has been found that those who have experienced domestic abuse are at greater risk of having long-term conditions such as, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance misuse. Many women lose their lives due to effects of domestic abuse every year in the UK. Therefore the term ‘survivor’ can be used to describe someone who has not lost their life because of domestic abuse. Some women feel that the difference between identifying as a ‘victim’ or as a ‘survivor,’ is that being a ‘survivor’ signifies the process of developing from or moving on from the abuse experienced. Scotland has a unique position in terms of domestic abuse as the recently enforced Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, considers psychological abuse (such as controlling behaviour) as an equal offence to physical abuse. This is different from other countries legislation, therefore the Scottish perspective of this issue is unique. Occupational therapists also have a unique perspective as they can work in both mental and physical health and often focus on building up or restoring lost life skills. This makes them an appropriate profession to work with survivors of domestic abuse. A literature review was conducted to explore the existing literature about the impact of domestic abuse once the individual had left their abusive relationship. Following this, a research proposal has been developed with the aim to explore the occupational therapists perspectives on working with this population in Scotland.