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If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking, talk to someone. Help is available and your employer will be supportive. Employers have a duty of care to employees because alcohol can cause problems at work.

Talking to your employer

Although it might seem daunting, approaching your line manager, HR manager or senior manager about your colleague’s alcohol or drug problem it is better done sooner rather than later.

  • Speak to someone sooner rather than later;
  • Examine your company’s alcohol and drug policy if there is one. If they do not have a policy then read their healthcare policy for sick employees;
  • Know your rights and responsibilities as an employee;

Talk confidentially to your line manager about your alcohol or drug problem; they are likely to have noticed a change in your colleagues behaviours already.

For help with this check out Castle Craig Hospitals ‘Explaining to your boss‘.

The Police

Your employer should be the first port of call. However, you may be required to report the issue to the police.

It is not possible to consider alcohol-related crime in Scotland without regard to the culture of excessive drinking that has arisen in recent decades.

There is overwhelming evidence that the level of per capita consumption in the population is closely related to the level of harm experienced.

The Scottish Government has recognised the damaging effect that alcohol is having on the quality of life for many people in Scotland and as one part of its alcohol framework introduced the Alcohol Scotland Bill 2010.

This bill aims to reduce the unacceptable levels of harm in Scotland, which are related to alcohol use and was passed in November 2010. The new measures will restrict alcohol promotions on off-sales premises; ban quantity discounts; introduce a “challenge 25” age verification scheme; pave the way for a social responsibility levy on those who profit from the sale of alcohol. These measures aim to reduce availability and help to reduce public disorder related to alcohol.

The Police in the UK are classed as public servants.  Part of their job is to assist people.  If you need guidance or information, do approach a police officer. Should you get into any trouble, it is advisable to co-operate and help the police.  If you are arrested, you have the right to know why and you also have the right to remain silent until you have arranged a solicitor to help you.

If you notice anyone promoting illegal activity or behaving in a threatening manner it’s important that you report it to the service provider. If you think you are the victim of a crime, are being threatened for money or any other purpose, or someone is in immediate serious danger, contact the police.

If you are concerned about anything, you can contact the police on 101. If you are not comfortable with calling the police you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or send an email to at any time. This is totally confidential, and you don’t have to give your name or address.

Legal duties and obligations around work-related violence

As well as the moral duty of employers to protect employees and members of the public, General Health and Safety Legislation covers all employers and workplaces. This includes carrying out a risk assessment for work, to assess and control the risks to employees from violence and aggression.

To risk assess for work-related violence:

  • Think ahead and consider situations where violence and aggression could arise
  • Consider who might be harmed and how. In particular, consider those working alone or those carrying out home visits. Are they in regular contact with the office? Can they call for help if problems arise? Do you have additional procedures for new clients/customers?
  • Evaluate the risk
  • Modify jobs and tasks to remove or lessen the risk of violence. For example, could the first meeting with a client be held in a public place?
  • Record your risk assessment and inform staff of your procedures and controls
  • Check what you have done by monitoring and reviewing your assessment regularly.

Supporting victims of work-related violence

Any violent incident involving the workforce needs a quick response to avoid unnecessary distress:

  • A plan should be evolved to consider what should be done
  • Think about debriefing, but remember, victims have different responses to violence and may not wish to talk immediately after the incident
  • Specialist counselling may be required
  • Persons who have witnessed an incident may also require support
  • There may be a requirement to have time off work to recover from an incident as people recover over differing amounts of time
  • In serious cases, legal help may be appropriate
  • Other employees and witnesses may need guidance or further training to help them react appropriately in the future.


Socialising has never been so much fun!

More and more people are turning to a no or low alcohol lifestyle. We are cutting alcohol from our diet for loads of reasons: health, fitness, driving, pregnancy – the list goes on.

As a result, attendance at afterwork drinks seem to become less and less as an alcohol free lifestyle becomes the norm.

Despite this, thinking of things to do that don’t involve alcohol is often challenging.

So here’s some inspiration:


Tackle your bucket list

Take on a team challenge. This doesn’t have to be as challenging as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or a sky dive. Something as simple as a step challenge may be enough to pull your team together.

Café Chic

Late night cafes are becoming more and more popular. Enjoy all the comfort of the pub, whilst you indulge in some luxury food and drink. You can even pick up a nice treat to take home. Everyone is happy!

Click here to check out some late night café’s in Aberdeen.

Try something new

Why not attend a corporate day?

Bond as a team as you tear through the countryside on a quad bike or improve your aim with some clay pigeon shooting. There’s lots of options our there and you may even pick up a new hobby.


Got some other ideas ? SHARE WITH US…

Employees with a drink problem have the same rights to confidentiality and support as they would if they had any other medical or psychological condition. Disciplinary action should be a last resort.

A court may find a dismissal unfair if an employer has made no attempt to help an employee whose work problems are related to drinking alcohol. The cost of recruiting and training a replacement may be greater than the cost of allowing someone time off to obtain expert help. If employees’ drinking is a matter of concern, they should be encouraged to seek help from their GP or a specialist alcohol agency.

Increasingly workplaces are looking to take action on a number of levels to reduce alcohol-related harm and create healthier and more productive workforces and working environments. There are a broad range of interventions which can be carried out within the workplace to address alcohol issues. Each workplace will be different and therefore the approaches used will vary.

What can be done to reduce alcohol harm in the workplace?

Introducing a workplace alcohol policy:

The policy should clearly state the company/organisation’s position around alcohol (and sometimes drugs) within the workplace. Many companies and organisations choose to have an alcohol-free workplace. The alcohol policy will clearly outline the rights and responsibilities in terms of dealing with alcohol-related problems in the workplace should they arise. The policy will also outline what support will be offered and in what circumstances disciplinary action would be taken.

Alcohol awareness sessions with employees

When developing or revising a workplace alcohol policy it is important to keep all staff informed of the process for this, including what the proposed/revised policy will cover and when this will be implemented. To support this, it can be useful to have an alcohol awareness session for staff which helps build understanding about why this is needed and the benefits to the workforce. Check out our no alcohol April.

Training for managers/supervisors

To ensure the meaningful and consistent implementation of the alcohol policy, it is critical that all managers and supervisors have knowledge and confidence to handle any issues which arise. Training on the key elements of the policy and how to conduct workplace interviews if required can be vital to ensuring the policy is used effectively


For more information check out Alcohol Focus Scotlands factsheet on alcohol and the workplace.

Approaching someone about an alcohol or drug problem is daunting for any manager or colleague. However the sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner help can be found.

The following steps will make the process easier on both manager and employee:

  • Early recognition- know the signs and symptoms of addiction;
  • Explain that addiction is a disease, not a moral weakness or a personality disorder;
  • Early intervention- help at an early stage can save an employee’s health, family and career. By the time alcoholism and drug addiction is visible in the office, it is already causing problems at home;
  • Persuasion- a flexible, caring approach. Begin by expressing concern and expect denial and defensiveness;
  • Present the facts- don’t say “I think you drink too much”, instead say “I smelled alcohol on your breath before the client meeting’;
  • Employees should be made aware of the effects their drug taking is having in the office, on their colleagues and on the company;
  • Use leverage where possible- It may be necessary to say that continuing employment depends on the ability to resolve their problems. But that you will support them if they accept help;
  • Offer information and professional help- give them details of the Company Doctor, counsellor or a nearby GP; gather contact details of different professional organisations or rehab clinics that can provide treatment;
  • Do not assume responsibility for the behaviour or tackling the problem – at the end of the day they are the ones who have to face their addiction.

All employees should bear in mind that by ignoring the problem, it will only get worse.


Any alcohol or drugs policy should be used to ensure problems are dealt with effectively, and consistently and early on in the process. They should protect workers and encourage sufferers to seek help. As an employer, you have a responsibility towards the well-being of your employees, but not only this – it is also in your best economical interest to implement a substance abuse policy with a sound support network. The cost of firing an employee with alcohol problems; and recruiting, hiring and training a replacement are far greater than seeking help for your affected employee.

When you become aware of the issue, you should:

  • Keep accurate, confidential records of instances of poor performance or other problems
  • Interview the worker in private as early as possible in the process
  • Concentrate on the instances of poor performance that have been identified
  • Ask for the worker’s reasons for poor performance and question whether it could be due to a health problem, without specifically mentioning alcohol or drugs
  • If appropriate, discuss your alcohol and drugs policy and the help available inside or outside of your organisation
  • Agree future action
  • Arrange regular meetings to monitor progress and discuss any further problems if they arise.

Avoid an argument

Good practices around work-related violence:

  • Speak to staff regularly to hear if there are any ‘new’ problems
  • Keep detailed records of related incidents and encourage staff to report ‘near misses’
  • Think about training and supplying information to all staff on personal safety and how to diffuse difficult situations.
  • Look at the work environment and physical security of staff at the planning stage of any new work.

Find a treatment centre

Supporting your employees through rehab leads to:

  • Economic savings for the company,
  • Improved work climate,
  • A healthier work force,
  • A better reputation among your stakeholders, and Improved workforce commitment.

Follow up care

Supporting your colleague/employee through their alcohol or drug problem doesn’t end when they enter a rehab clinic. One of the most important phases is the transition back into the working environment and the support offered to them from their managers.


Fore more information please check out ACAS and healthy working lives.



Reaching out to help someone with an alcohol or drug problem is not easy.

All too often, close friends and family turn a blind eye to the situation and hope that the person will eventually see sense. But addiction will not go away and denial prevents the person from appreciating the full extent of the problem and its consequences.

Heavy drinkers are less able to make conscious choices about their drinking and so the involvement of family, friends and employers can make a difference.


A flexible caring approach rather than a harsh one is important. You must be non-confrontational and persuasive.

Strike conversation

Using positive language is key to this empathetic approach. Dr Jacobson suggests using phrases such as:

  • “I wonder if you drink less your health/well-being may improve.”
  • “I’ve noticed that you aren’t so positive about life since you’ve been drinking more. This isn’t the kind of person I know you to be. I’m not bringing it up to upset you, but because I’m concerned.”
  • “I’ve noticed you’re not doing as much exercise as you used to.”
  • “I thought it was great when you were going to yoga/football/your night class etc.”

Keep your cool

Accept that it will be a difficult situation and expect the person to be defensive and hostile.

Meanwhile, it’s definitely best to avoid harsh criticism, making judgements and labels such as “alcoholic”. To avoid circular conversations (Them: “No, I’m not!” You: “Yes, you are.”) It’s also best to keep your questions open, “I’ve noticed X, what do you think?” rather than “don’t you think you have a problem?”

You may be frightened or angry but avoid blame and angry confrontations. They need to be able to focus on what is being said, not how it is being said.

Express Concern & Offer Help

Begin at the outset by expressing your deep concern and your commitment to help and support them in taking positive action.

Present the Facts

Present the actual facts about their drinking or drug misuse and be specific about their behaviour. Avoid moral judgements and opinions. Instead of “I think you drink too much”, say: “last night you were slurring your speech and shouting, you drove on the wrong side of the road, it was really frightening”.

Explain that they have an Illness

Explain that a serious alcohol or drug problem is an illness, not a moral weakness or lack of willpower. Tell them that they are a decent human being with a very destructive illness, one which leads to a progressive decline and a potentially fatal outcome. Help them to recognise that the only way to deal with this illness is through abstinence. To achieve this help will be needed and you can support them.

Use Leverage where Possible

The more leverage/bargaining power you have the better, and it helps to set healthy boundaries.  But don’t confuse this with ‘threats’, you must intend to carry out anything you say.  If you are an employer it may be necessary to offer a choice of treatment or risk one’s career. You are not forcing the person to get help, you are offering a choice.  A sheriff or magistrate may decide that the person can have a choice between treatment or jail.  Parents may decide that grandchildren are at risk unless their grandparent seeks help.  Speak with deep concern but firmness.

Engage Others: Group Intervention

A group can have more impactA spouse can use older children, a brother/sister, a minister and at work other colleagues can be involved.  If each person is armed with specific facts the effect can be powerful.

Again, a group can act separately: several people over the course of a couple of weeks can approach the person suggesting the need for help and leaving the same card or telephone number for professional help.

Offer Information and Professional Help

Leave information around work. Have the names and telephone numbers of agencies or professionals who provide treatment ready at your fingertips.

Offer to phone at once for them.  All too often the person will promise to seek help but will not follow through.  If they do not accept help then leave the door open; don’t nag and don’t scold.  It may be enough to plant the seed.  With a friend it may take months or longer before they agree to treatment.

Practice Tough Love

Place responsibility where it lies, with the addict. Do not take the burden of responsibility on yourself.

Offer Hope

Too often help and treatment are not offered because the outcome is seen to be hopeless.  But 50% of addicts and alcoholic patients can and do recover and there are excellent results for early problem drinkers.

Recommend a Self-Help Group

Recommend the self-help groups of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).  Offer to take your friend to a meeting and go along with them.  AA prescribes abstinence gently, one day at a time.  AA provides hope, support, and exposure to stable recovery.  The experience of realisationsober fellowship and mutual support take the place of previous lonely struggle and isolation.  Remember that attending these self-help meetings may not be a palatable experience at the beginning, and they will complain, but they should be encouraged to persevere.

Contact Al-Anon

Family members themselves will be greatly helped by attending Al-Anon, the self-help group for families and significant others, where through the experience of other family members you will be able to find some solutions for yourself and your loved one.

Consider Early Intervention

As with any illness, alcoholism responds best to early intervention and needs to be confronted at an early stage for the best outcomes.  All too often the problem is ignored until there is a major crisis.  Collusion at the workplace is also all too frequent and the underperforming colleague is tolerated until given a golden handshake or simply fired on a technicality.  The longer we ignore the problem the greater the health risks: brain damage, liver damage and a poor prognosis.


Adapted from Castle Craig.

Download the Alcohol focus factsheet here.

When people are about to hop behind the wheel after a night of drinking, those sober people around them have a golden opportunity to stop an accident from occurring.

By stepping in, right then, they can ensure that the person doesn’t drive. Alcohol makes it hard for people to process information and make good decisions. Asking the person to think over the issue wouldn’t be effective, as the person isn’t thinking clearly in the moment. Instead, it’s best to use statements such as:

  • I have called you a cab. Don’t drive today.
  • I am worried that you will harm someone while you drink and drive.
  • When you drink and drive, I don’t feel as though I am safe in the car.

These are powerful statements that can help the person see how truly dangerous the family feels the drinking and driving truly is, and these statements also allow the person to feel as though the family only wants what is best.

There are also methods of public transport available that would involve the individual who has had too much to drink getting to where he needs to go safely.


For more information check out drinking and driving intervention.

Student life can seem to revolve around alcohol, with the student bar and local pubs often the centre of the college social scene.

Drinking in moderation is an enjoyable and usually harmless feature of student life. Getting drunk regularly can have potentially serious physical, social and academic effects. Even drinking to excess just occasionally can be damaging. In the short term, drinking too much can impact on your studies because it affects concentration and makes you more likely to miss classes, hand in work late and do badly in exams.


Party Safe

 Socialising is a major part of student life. Keep these simple steps in mind while having fun:

  • Plan your night out before you go out, including how to get home.
  • Stick with friends and avoid leaving parties or nights out with strangers.
  • Be sensible about how much alcohol you drink – a drunk person is much more vulnerable and an easier target for criminals.
  • If you leave a drink unattended then don’t go back to it.
  • If you feel very drunk or unwell, ask a trusted friend or a member of the club or pub management for help.
  • Look after bags and valuables. Don’t attract attention to a phone, especially if you’re under the influence of alcohol.
  • Keep enough money to pay for your journey home.
  • Stay alert at cash machines. Hide your PIN, be aware of who’s behind you and don’t flash your cash. Avoid using them if you’ve had too much to drink.
  • Always call and book a taxi from a licensed private hire/taxi firm and make sure the vehicle pulling up is definitely your hire before you get into it.
  • Where possible, avoid travelling alone.
  • If walking home, keep to well-lit, busy areas and never take isolated shortcuts.
  • Walk facing traffic so a car cannot pull up behind you.
  • Personal attack alarms are good but don’t carry weapons or pepper sprays as this is illegal in Scotland.
  • Have keys ready when you’re approaching the car or your accommodation.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drink or drugs. 


  • Enjoy your night out safely
  • Stay with friends
  • Always charge your mobile phone
  • Find a licensed taxi at a designated taxi rank
  • Enjoy yourself responsibly – pace yourself
  • Look after one another

You can learn more about keeping safe here.

For more information and guidance you can also check out NHS Student Health.

If you have just learned that your child has Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), you may well be feeling a lot of different emotions. Anger, confusion, loss and guilt are all common among parents whose children have been diagnosed with FASD, but there are strategies you can use to make life easier. It’s important to focus not on the past, but on the present, and how you can support your child’s future development. With the right support and early intervention, children with FASD can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives, particularly when they come from a loving family home.

What you need to know

  • Early diagnosis is essential. If you suspect FASD but this has not been confirmed, talk to your midwife or doctor straight away
  • Studies have shown that children with FASD are more likely to have mental health problems or addictions in later life, so always be aware of the signs and where to get support
  • Although there is no cure for FASD, by working in partnership with your GP, midwife and school you can dramatically lower the impact of its symptoms
  • A child with FASD may be challenging at times, but it’s always worth the work

Tips For Supporting Your Child With FASD

  • Children with FASD are more successful in life when they come from a nurturing, loving home, so make love and understanding your biggest priority
  • Create a loving, ordered environment with clear boundaries and routines
  • Talk to teachers and other caregivers about their specific needs
  • Give them access to medical and support services
  • Teach through repetition
  • Use a calm, clear voice when explaining things
  • Read and sing together
  • Use pictures as well as words – many children with FASD are visual learners
  • Break tasks down into simple steps
  • Give positive feedback and praise
  • Allow longer times on specific tasks
  • Set a clear schedule with regular reminders

Tips For Supporting Your Teen With FASD

  • Establish clear boundaries
  • Encourage independence
  • Work in partnership with school
  • Give set tasks around the house
  • Talk openly about sexual health, alcohol and drugs
  • Promote money management and budgeting skills
  • Keep an eye on friendship groups
  • Help secure part time work
  • Remove triggers
  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication
  • Establish realistic goals and targets
  • Work closely with school and docs

…and crucially, take care of yourself! Parenting isn’t easy, and it can be even more challenging when your child has been diagnosed with FASD. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and take time out for yourself when you can. When you’re refreshed and calm, you’ll be more able to take on the world together!



Related links:

FASD Booklet

Facts about FASD

Sometimes the thought of going out and socialising can seem daunting, especially when you know people will be drinking heavily. But you can still have a great time and stay safe if you follow these simple tips:

  • Plan your route in advance and check timetables, so you know how to get there and back on public transport if needed
  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert – you are more of a target if you’re concentrating on texting or listening to loud music on headphones
  • Be assertive – walking with a confident stride will help you stay safe and look in control (even if you don’t feel it!)
  • If you’re on a date, make sure your friends know where you’re going and that you have someone to call if you need help
  • Keep an eye on your drink – unattended glasses and bottles can easily be spiked, so stay vigilant and never give your drink to anyone else
  • Try to stay with a group of friends and avoid being on your own in an isolated place
  • Always have an escape route – if you are worried someone may become aggressive, stay close to the door and have your belongings to hand so you can grab them quickly
  • Move towards people – if you feel threatened get to a place where there are plenty of people around until help arrives
  • Stay alert – if you drink too much, your judgement will become impaired and you’ll be less able to handle a dangerous situation, so monitor your own drinking
  • Watch out for changes in behaviour – an aggressive tone of voice, flash of anger in the eyes and agitated movements can all be signs that someone is going to lose their temper. Be aware of how people are behaving and get yourself in a safe space if you become concerned
  • Take care of your belongings – your phone and cash/bank card can be lifelines if you need to get out of somewhere quickly, so make sure you always know where they are

Click here to find out how to report incidents should they arise. 

If you are living with an abusive or alcoholic partner, you will probably feel on edge and unsafe a lot of the time. It’s important that you seek help and consider finding somewhere else to live if you are very worried about the safety of yourself or others, but in the meantime this short guide will help you stay safe at home.   

Keep Your Phone With You 

If you find yourself in danger, it’s essential that you can call for help. Many phones have SOS options where you press a couple of buttons and send a message to a friend or family member to say you’re in trouble, but if you feel your life is being threatened you should call 999. 

Make Sure Your Smoke Alarms Are Working 

Fire is a major risk factor for anyone living with an alcoholic, especially if they smoke. Even if cigarettes are not involved, accidents with chip pans, electrics and unattended barbecues can easily happen, often with devastating consequences. It is essential that your home is fitted with quality smoke detectors and alarms that are regularly checked, so you and your family will be safe in the event of an emergency. 

Have Clear Exits Ready At All Times 

If your partner becomes aggressive you will need to be able to get yourself and any children to a safe space as quickly as possible. Always keep doorways and windows clear, and if you feel an argument starting consider your escape route and try to remain as calm as possible. Keeping your exits clear is also essential in the case of emergencies such as house fires.  

Keep An Eye On Dangerous Objects  

Domestic arguments can quickly escalate, and if your partner is particularly aggressive it’s possible they will use items around the home as weapons. Be aware of where sharp knives and heavy objects are kept and try to avoid any situation where your partner can grab one easily and use it against you. If you feel in danger, try to stay calm and remove yourself from the room as quickly as possible.  

Be Careful On The Stairs  

Stairs can be very dangerous when you live with an abusive or alcoholic partner – trips and falls can easily happen, and it’s not uncommon for victims of domestic abuse to be pushed down the stairs. If possible, try to stay downstairs if you feel you may be in danger and have a clear escape route. If that’s not possible, always keep your stairway clear of obstacles and keep your phone with you at all times.  

Avoid Arguments  

Anyone who lives with an abusive partner will know this is easier said than done, but if possible try not to engage with an argument. If you feel your partner is becoming aggressive, try to move yourself away from the situation as calmly as possible without reacting.   

Get Help 

Living with an abusive partner can feel very lonely and confusing, but it’s important that you talk to someone before things become unbearable. Friends and family may be able to provide you with a bed for the night, and if you feel that  you and any children or pets are in danger, you must get help straight away. Seek advice from an organisation such as Scottish Women’s AidAbused Men in Scotland or Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline and if you are at immediate risk call 999. 


Related links:

Abused Men in Scotland

Domestic abuse support

Financial assistance

Protecting children

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline

Women’s Aid Scotland

Living with an abusive or alcoholic partner can feel very isolating and confusing, but there are things you can do to help you cope with the situation, such as:  

  • Keep a diary, so you can record what’s happening should you need it later 
  • Talk to friends and family so you have a strong support system 
  • Take care of yourself – eat well, try to get plenty of sleep and be mindful of your mental health. If you feel you are becoming depressed, speak to your doctor 
  • Look after your finances – if you need to get away in a hurry, you will need cash. Try to save a little bit of money every week if you can, so if you need emergency transport or accommodation you can pay for it 
  • Make time for things you enjoy – even going for a walk in the sunshine, having a long bubble bath or listening to music can give you a boost and help you stay positive 
  • Join a support group or online forum for people living with abuse or alcoholism. Just talking to other people in the same situation can give you the strength to get through the day or make positive changes 
  • Seek advice from a national support organisation, such as Scottish Women’s AidAbused Men in Scotland or Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline  


 Always remember: you have the right to a happy, safe life free from abuse. Even if it feels impossible, you can find the strength to change your life with the right support and a positive attitude. Help is out there, so don’t be afraid to use it and always take good care of yourself.

Protecting Your Children 

If you are living in an abusive relationship and you have children, their safety will be your biggest priority. This is a very upsetting and often confusing situation to be in, particularly if your partner is apologetic the next day and promises to change, but this never happens. No matter how much you love your partner and want them to get better, you must always put the safety of you and your children first. 

 If you feel your children are in danger, speak to a support organisation that specialises in domestic abuse, such as Refuge Scottish Women’s AidAbused Men in Scotland or Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline  

Safety net

You will need to have a good support network and somewhere for you and your children to go if your partner becomes aggressive, so talk to a trusted friend or family member who can help you get a back up plan together. It’s important that you have control over your finances and have some spare funds available if you need to make an emergency trip or stay in a hotel or hostel while you are looking for accommodation. 

Housing support

If you need social housing, apply to your local council immediately and explain that you have children who are living in danger. They should help you find emergency housing and put you on a list for a permanent home, providing you meet their criteria – contact them for information. 

Reporting abusive partner

Abusive partners often use children as bargaining tools and methods of control, often turning children against the other parent. They may also make threats about harming themselves or your children if you leave them – it is important to remember that this is a form of emotional abuse called coercive control, which is now a criminal offence in the UK. You and your children have the right to live in a safe environment, so don’t be manipulated by threats like this. If you do feel that your partner will carry out these threats and harm your children, it is essential that you report it to the police and remove them (and you) from the situation without delay.  

Support from school

Talk to your children’s school to let them know that there are problems at home and ask for their support. This may feel embarrassing and perhaps like you are betraying your partner, but having the right measures in place can help your children achieve their academic goals and live a healthy school life. Schools have counselling services which can be very helpful.

Do I have to let my ex see our children? 

Unless the child contact has been decided by a court (see below), you do not have to let your ex see any children you share together. If you feel under pressure to allow your ex-partner contact, call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline so they can talk through your options and connect you with specialist services. You can also seek advice from a family law solicitor. Try to find one with experience in domestic abuse. 

You or your ex can apply to the family court for a Child Arrangements Order. This is a court order that sets out who your children live with and where and how much time your child spends with your ex. It can also set out other types of contact, such as through calls, FaceTime or letters. 

The court’s decision will be based on what they think is best for the child. Where there has been abuse, the court must consider a range of factors before deciding on the appropriate level of contact for your ex. For example the court might grant reduced, restricted or perhaps supervised contact in some cases. Or the court might say your ex can only see the children in a Child Contact Centre. The order can also ensure that arrangements for drop-off and collection will minimise possible contact with your ex. 

Find more information about the topic on the Citizens Advice website. Also have a look at our page on legal aid here.

It will get better

Always remember that you are not alone – every day thousands of families are affected by domestic abuse, and there is plenty of help available. Organisations such as Refuge and Women’s Aid will help you both emotionally and practically, providing you with the tools you need to keep you and your children safe.  

Any kind of abuse is extremely upsetting and damaging to children, but it is important to know that this will not last forever. Children can be very resilient, and with the right support they can go on to live perfectly happy, fulfilling lives. Your love and guidance will get them through, so no matter how bleak things may feel now, together you can overcome this.  On Refuge’s website, you can find guidance on how you can support your child to understand what is going on. 



Related links:

Domestic abuse support

We understand you might be under financial pressure, so we have collected information for you on how to get financial aid.

Citizens advice


GIRFEC Information

If your partner is abusive and you don’t have alternative accommodation, you may want to consider finding a Safe House. Also known as refuges, these are safe places that allow you to leave your partner and make informed decisions about your next move. You can also access specialist support services for victims of domestic abuse, as well as practical advice about things like housing and the law.  

Safe houses vary from place to place – they can be like a shared house, where you have a communal kitchen and bathroom but your own bedroom, or they can be self-contained flats or studio apartments. If you have children you will probably have to share with them as it is rare for each family member to have their own bedroom. 

The addresses of safe houses are confidential, which means you won’t have to worry about your abusive partner tracking you down.  

You can access a Safe House by calling the 24 hour Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or Shelter’s free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444. You can also ask the police, social work department or an organisation such as Women’s Aid  to refer you to a refuge. 


Related links:


Financial Aid

The Survivor’s Handbook

Domestic Abuse Support

How to Deal with Harassment and Stalking

How to Report Domestic Violence

Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

Communicate with your children

When a relationship finishes it’s natural to feel a wide range of emotions, including anger, betrayal, fear and grief. When there are children involved the break up is even more complicated, because you also need to support them through this very upsetting time whilst probably having to stay in contact with your ex. 

It’s important to remember that your child will be experiencing many of the same feelings as you, along with a lot of confusion about what’s going on. However hard it is, you need to be as consistent as possible and reassure them that although things will be different, they still have both parents.  

It’s also important to let them know that they are not to blame for the break up and give them the opportunity to talk and ask questions. That said, children don’t need to know all the gory details of a break up so think about what information you want to share and the impact it can have on them long term.  

How to go about with the situation

Even though your partner may have hurt you, they are still your child’s parent, so try not to say hurtful things about them or turn your child against them.  

Your child may become angry and frustrated during this time, and it’s ok to give them space to express that anger. Sports or other physical activities can help, or you could consider counselling.  It’s a good idea to speak to your child’s school so they know what’s happening and can provide extra support if the break up impacts on their learning or social activities. 

Where possible, try to keep things consistent and stick to the same rules and routines you had when you and your partner were still together. Children need consistency at the best of times, but this is even more important during a time like this. Ensure you give your child plenty of reassurance and affection and let them know that they are still very loved by you and your ex partner.  

With the right support, a child can come through the breakdown of their parents’ relationship as a positive, well-rounded and empathic individual. 

If you need to apply for child maintenance to help pay for your child now you are on your own,  you can do so online here.



Related links:

Child maintenance

Protecting your children

Financial aid

How to apply for legal aid

Alcohol in the family

Support for families

Stalking is a specific crime that is covered by section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Stalking and harassment can be defined as any persistent or unwanted attention that makes you feel distressed or unsafe. This includes being followed, called or sent persistent messages.  

Stalking often goes on for a long period of time, making the victim feel constantly anxious and scared for their safety. Like other types of abuse, it can take a while for someone to realise that they are being harassed and that it is not just “normal” behaviour.  

Harassment and stalking doesn’t just happen in person – social media and the internet are often used to make people feel intimidated and fearful. Whatever the situation, this is not something you have to put up with, and someone can be prosecuted for stalking if they have behaved in this way twice or more.  

It is important to keep a record of everything that’s happening. Police need evidence of the stalking and harassment in order to take the matter further, so although it may be tempting to delete unwanted messages it’s important to save them in case they are needed in court. Here’s what you need to do: 

  • Make a note of the date, time and location of each incident, along with details of any witnesses. 
  • Save all messages and keep screenshots of emails or social media contact with the perpetrator.  
  • Take photographs where possible, but do this subtly and carefully to avoid making the stalker aware. 

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the police straight away on 999. 



Related links:

Emergency numbers

Police Scotland – Stalking

Support for stalking victims

Taking action about harassment

When you learn that a loved one is the victim of domestic abuse, it’s natural to feel scared and anxious. You will probably want them to end the relationship immediately, but it’s important to know that this doesn’t always happen, for lots of reasons. Supporting someone who is suffering from domestic abuse isn’t easy, and you may find the entire process takes a lot longer than you would expect. Here are a few tips to help you. 

Remember everyone deals with things differently 

If your friend or family member is refusing to leave the relationship, it can be hard to understand. In many cases they will be too afraid to leave, but it’s also common for victims to feel a sense of loyalty towards their abuser which is known as “trauma bonding”. This happens when someone has been abused for so long that they feel totally worthless and unable to function without their abuser, which can be very difficult for an outsider to deal with. Try not to judge and appreciate that there is no set process for ending an abusive relationship; people tend to do it in their own time. The important thing is for you to be there for them and try to learn as much as you can about how abuse takes hold in a relationship.  

Be practical 

Sometimes the best way to support someone experiencing any kind of abuse is by offering practical solutions. Instead of asking questions, which they may shy away from, you can provide information about support organisations who can help as well as helping practically with things like childcare, shopping or keeping a diary of evidence.  

Be there 

Victims of abuse often shut themselves away from friends and family, which can be very upsetting to deal with. Remember that if your loved one is distancing themself from you it’s probably not because they don’t want to see you, but because they don’t know how to cope with the situation. In many cases abusers will actively try to alienate their victims from friends and family, and they may also make the victim feel guilty or disloyal for talking to anyone else. If you feel yourself being shut out, try not to take it personally and let the victim know you will always be there for them. If you leave the door open, they are more likely to come back to you when they’re ready to accept that something’s wrong and do something about it.  

Offer somewhere safe if you can 

One of the biggest reasons victims stay with their abusers is because they don’t have anywhere else to go. People who abuse their partners are often very controlling, which can create a situation in which the victim has no money or resources with which to make an escape. If you are in a position to offer a safe place for them to stay until they can find an alternative this can play a huge role in the victim’s recovery. If you are concerned about your own safety or feel that the abuser may come to your home, call the police or your local domestic abuse shelter. 

Accept they won’t always want to talk about it 

Denial is a very complex and frustrating part of abuse that can take time to overcome. Your friend or loved one may not want to talk and may even become angry with you for suggesting anything is wrong. Again, this isn’t about you, it’s part of the process of being abused, so try not to take it to heart and don’t push it – just let them know you’ll listen when they’re ready. 

Expect to be frustrated 

Supporting someone through domestic abuse can be really frustrating, especially if you feel like you’re being lied to and the victim isn’t taking positive steps to get out. It’s ok to feel annoyed, but try not to take it out on the victim as they’ll already be aware of the situation and dealing with aggression at home. Just be there for them. 

Look after yourself 

Seeing someone you care about living through domestic abuse is painful, so don’t forget to look after your own mental health. Samaritans Scotland  will be there to listen to your concerns and offer confidential support, and it’s important to make sure you eat well and get as much sleep as you can. By providing practical support and letting your loved one know you will always be there for them, you can both live a happier life free from drama.



Related links:

Some of the most common signs of abuse.

Support for victims of abuse.


Aberdeen City Council free financial advice.

Denial is extremely frustrating to deal with, especially if you can see the damage that’s being done but the other person refuses to accept it. Your friend or loved one may not want to talk and may even become angry with you for suggesting anything is wrong. Although this is incredibly challenging behaviour, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a slight on you, but a natural part of any kind of abuse or addiction. Try not to take it to heart and don’t keep repeating yourself if they’re clearly not ready to listen – just let them know that you’ll be there for them when they are. 


If you’re finding yourself constantly faced with denial it might be worth changing the record and finding a different way to approach the problem. In order to do this, it helps to understand the nature of denial. For many people, it’s a coping strategy that helps them avoid facing an uncomfortable truth. If your partner or family member is in denial, it could be that it’s easier for them to overlook their problems and play them down instead of having to do something about them – a bit like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. Nobody likes to be criticised, and this can be particularly challenging when someone is dealing with addiction or abuse because they are so often linked with low self-esteem.  


Addiction or being the victim of abuse can be a source of terrible shame and embarrassment. For this reason, it feels much safer and more comfortable to simply ignore it rather than facing up to the problem. That’s why staging interventions or highlighting the issue can be so tricky, because it means drawing attention to the thing that the individual is most ashamed of. Instead, try approaching it from an impartial, non-judgmental perspective, so you let them know you’re there but they have nothing to be ashamed of. This can be challenging if you’re very close, but changing your language and thinking carefully about how you approach the subject can be much more effective than going in all guns blazing and telling them they’ve got a problem. Here are a few tips: 


  • Use “I” instead of “You”. If you approach the other person with a comment like “You’ve got a problem you need to deal with” chances are the conversation will go badly. But if you change it to “I’m worried about things and want you to know I’m here” you’re creating a much less confrontational situation. 
  • Ask what they want to happen. Often, when supporting loved ones through abuse or addiction it’s easy to come at it from our own perspective and concentrate on how the problem affects us. This just adds to their feelings of guilt and shame, so approach it from their point of view instead.  
  • Listen, rather than talk. Creating a situation where your loved one feels they’re being listened to, rather than talked at, can be a huge help when it comes to dealing with any kind of abuse or addiction. You may well feel desperate to interrupt and get your own point of view across, but try to take a deep breath and just listen while they express their own problems and fears.  
  • Let them know they’re unconditionally loved and supported. It’s common for victims of abuse or addiction to lash out at loved ones, which can be very upsetting to deal with. Remember that this reaction is about them, not you, and tell them that you’ll always be there for them. 


Crucially, you have to also look after yourself. Loving someone unconditionally shouldn’t mean making yourself ill. It’s important to get plenty of rest and eat well, and if you find yourself struggling with depression see your doctor. You can also get support from an organisation that helps families and loved ones of addicts, such as SFAD. 

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