Scottish counselor abused for 26 years by ex told colleagues she was in car crash


A Scottish councilor who was beaten by her ex-husband for 26 years credited a former colleague who spotted her injuries for giving her the strength to escape the violence.

Marie Garrity had her nose broken twice when her ex kicked her and had to go to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, where she was a nurse.

During an attack, she was severely beaten by her husband, but told colleagues who treated her at the hospital that she had been in a car accident.

Like thousands of women, she was too embarrassed to tell her colleagues about her ordeal – even as they treated her for the injuries she had suffered.

Her story comes as a national project led by Scottish Women’s Aid was launched to train workers in Scotland to spot signs of domestic violence among their colleagues.

Marie, now Glasgow city councilor, said health workers are often reluctant to talk about abuse in case they are seen as weak by their colleagues.

Marie, who was a medical visitor and nurse specializing in ears, nose and throat, was treated by surgeons she worked under, but withheld the truth.

She said: “It was humiliating to be treated by surgeons I worked with. I became two people – the bubbly, confident professional at work and the curled up little wife at home.

Marie married her first husband when she was 16 and he was 18 but had known him since she was 14.

The abuse began in earnest during the first year of marriage when she was pregnant with their daughter. She said: “It could go on for three days, sometimes every week.

“He kicked me, punched me, dragged me by the hair by the hair. It was horrible. I was afraid of him.

Her fear was so great and her self-esteem so low that she couldn’t find a way out for many years.

But one day, as she bent over to pick up a file, a coworker noticed that her back was black with bruises.

For the first time, Marie admitted she was being abused and her colleague said she would help. Marie said: “Being able to talk to someone has been a huge relief. There was no judgment, only support.

It has now been over 20 years since she left her abusive partner and her life has blossomed with a happy second marriage and a successful career.

Marie said the initiative to train employees to spot signs of abuse may be the trigger victims need to leave.

She said: “Training employees to detect domestic violence could save lives. I am eternally grateful to my colleague who confronted me when she suspected that I was suffering from domestic violence.

“The relief of having someone to confide in, who supported me, allowed me to find the strength, with his help, to leave my abusive husband.

A national project has now been launched to train workers in Scotland to spot signs of domestic violence among their colleagues.

Scottish Women’s Aid is behind the program which she says can help women seek help and support to escape abuse.

The charity, which is partnering with the Scottish Government on the initiative, will organize training sessions and discussions with workers to give them a better understanding of domestic violence and sexual violence.

Scottish Women’s Aid chief executive Marsha Scott said workplaces could play a crucial role in changing attitudes and promoting gender equality.

Dr Marsha Scott, Executive Director, Scottish Women’s Aid.

She added: “Violence against women and girls, in all its forms, violates the human rights and dignity of every woman and girl in Scotland.

“Equipping the Scottish workforce with the knowledge, understanding and tools to recognize and respond to violence against women and girls is essential to tackle the daily harms and achieve the results that Scotland research for women, children and young people. “

A pilot program for Equally Safe in Practice (ESiP) is being launched in Angus, Dundee, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.

It will be held in departments such as social work and housing and will eventually be rolled out across Scotland.

It is hoped that the one-off training sessions will foster discussions on how men and women are categorized and how gender discrimination allows domestic violence.

A quarter of women will have experienced domestic violence at some point. The training will help staff spot signs that might indicate that a worker is the victim or perpetrator.

Marsha said, “The training is tailor-made for each organization and will be delivered in the way that works best. For example, we have different resources for small and medium businesses to decision makers. With the return from workplaces to the office after the lockdown, this is a great opportunity to offer employees a new set of tools to drive positive results in our communities. “

Equality Minister Christina McKelvie said: “We are delighted to be working with Scottish Women’s Aid on this vital project to ensure workers have a better understanding of gender-based violence.

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