On any given day in 2015, 95 women and 11 children contacted Women’s Aid for the very first time. On any given day, 347 women and 331 children were living in a Women’s Aid refuge. On any given day 33 women and 30 children asked for refuge and for 9 women and 7 children there was no suitable accommodation. On any given day 789 women and 348 children are supported by a Women’s Aid group.

But women and children are more than numbers.

Statistics give a snapshot, a tiny glimpse of a global problem that seeps into every nook and cranny of Scottish society. Figures can provide a sense of the issue, but they don’t tell you the impact domestic abuse has on the lives of women and their children. They don’t tell you what it is like to live in constant fear, to be isolated from people you love, to have your self-worth chipped away and to feel your space for action shrinking until you are trapped. Numbers don’t tell you what it is like to leave your worldly belongings, loved ones and pets behind, to leave your school and to move to a Women’s Aid refuge because it’s your only option. Numbers don’t tell you women and children’s stories.

Today – and every day – we think of these women and children and we work with them towards a Scotland where domestic abuse is not tolerated anymore.

But today, on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we also celebrate those who have fought for many years and those who will continue to fight to end violence against women in Scotland. We are grateful to and admire those women who put in the long hours, who’ve missed dinner time and instead eat a pot noodle for tea because they are just too tired to cook. We thank those who juggle family, children and friends with demanding hours and work, and we celebrate those whose fingers freeze as they carry placards and march to reclaim the night. And because violence against women is also a child right’s issue, we celebrate children whose voices are important, powerful and deserve to be heard.

We celebrate the strength, resilience, and power of women and those who have no intention of giving up, just because the going gets tough.

This International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we would like to thank our friends, colleagues, sisters, and allies for their commitment and dedication to creating a better Scotland for everyone. We pay tribute to the strength of survivors and the power of their speaking out and we promise that until domestic abuse is eradicated in Scotland, we’re not going anywhere

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