Areas of Inclusion

We provide a service to women of all ages, with or without disability, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and women of different races, religion and faiths.

Within our service we have equality champions who are actively working eradicate discrimination, harassment or victimisation. They want to ensure our workplace and service is a safe space for all women, children and young people so that everyone feels safe, welcomed, valued, included and respected. Whilst we consider WAEML to always have been inclusive it is important to us that women and young people have the confidence to access our service so we want to share here our position on some areas of inclusion.

You might feel scared of the person you are seeing or used to be seeing. They might ask you to do things you are not comfortable with or tell you who you should be friends with. They might comment on your clothes or tell you what you should wear, and they might threaten to do things to you or to people you love if you don’t do what they say. They might tell you it’s just because they love you, but love is never an excuse to treat someone this way.  None of this is ok, and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. We know it can be really hard to ask for help or to know where to turn but, you are not alone. If you are worried about your relationship and scared of your boyfriend or girlfriend we have staff that you can ask for help.  Here are all the ways you can get in touch – view our Contact Us page.
During 2022 we have been working with the Young Women’s Movement and Edinburgh Rape Crisis to carry out research that will help us better understand young women’s experiences of unhealthy relationships, sexual assault and how services can be more supportive.  We will be using the results of this research to help develop some projects specifically for young women.  Keep an eye on our news page and social media for updates.

Useful resources


We are trans-inclusive and provide support to all women whatever their sexual orientation. Whatever kind of abuse you are experiencing you do not need to put up with it.  We will not judge you.  We take a person centred approach and provide a space where you can speak freely and confidentially. Why not listen to one our service users who accessed our outreach service for help, read/listen to Suzy’s story.

We know it isn’t easy to reach out, but we want to support you.  We have a named LGBT+ champions within the service if you’d prefer to meet them first.

Abusers in LGBT+ relationships may use additional tactics to try and gain power and control.  This may include for example using your sexuality or gender identity against you, especially if you aren’t out to family or friends. We understand that this can make it incredibly difficult for the you to ask for help or talk about your experiences with your usual support network.

Here is just some of the work we have done to ensure our service is inclusive for the LGBT community:

  • All staff complete LGBT awareness training
  • Support worker staff complete training specifically on domestic abuse within LGBT relationships
  • Working to achieve the LGBT charter mark
  • Developed policies on LGBT inclusion
  • Pronoun badges available on site.

 Other places you can get information and support:


We know that disabled women are twice as likely to experience abuse as non-disabled women (source British Crime Survey (1995).  For disabled women, domestic abuse can take on unique, complex forms specifically related to their disability. For example, your partner may:

  • not let you access important care, medication or food;
  • take away, hide or damage equipment such as sensory or mobility aids to limit your independence
  • put obstacles and hazards in your way to make it difficult for you to move around
  • claim your disability benefits on your behalf but prevent you from accessing that money or not let you spend it the way you want to
  • humiliate and belittle you about your disability or symptoms to reinforce any existing feelings of low self esteem
  • threaten to tell social services that you are not fit to live alone or that you aren’t capable of looking after your children
  • touching you sexually without your permission or being rough with you when they are supposed to be helping you
  • give you too much medication or use physical restraints against you;
  • tell you that you are hard work, and that no-one else would want to care for you
  • not give you any privacy or space to be by yourself.

Women’s Aid East and Midlothian is inclusive although not all of our sites not fully accessible. We know it isn’t easy to reach out, but we want to support you so let us know if you have accessibility needs and we will make arrangements to ensure we can meet you in a safe space.  We have a named Disability champions within the service if you’d prefer to chat with them first, please call 0131 561 5800 ask to speak to one of them.

Support for deaf or hard of hearing women

It is estimated that in the UK, there are 22 deaf women at risk of domestic abuse every day.  Deaf women, compared to hearing women, are twice as likely to suffer from domestic abuse. The deaf community is small, so deaf women may be scared of reporting their perpetrators. We know also that BSL can play a key role in the abuse, as every word and expression could be a potential trigger.

Warning signs:

We understand that if your perpetrator is active within the deaf community they will know how to exploit your communication skills which can make it difficult for you to reach out, even to your closest friends and family.  Deaf women experience, and are impacted by domestic abuse, in the same way as hearing women but we know there are some tactics that you may additionally experience.  You will very likely feel isolated from family, friends, services, resources and options.

Your partner may:

  • remove your communication devices
  • intimidate you through gestures, facial expressions, or exaggerated signs, floor stomping and pounding on the table or door
  • sign very close to your face when they are angry
  • criticise your British sign language (BSL) skills or communication style
  • not inform you when people try to call on the phone or try to catch your attention
  • exclude you from important conversations
  • leave you out in social situations with hearing people
  • talk negatively about the deaf community
  • wrongly interpret to manipulate the situation if the police or other services are called
  • not allow children to use BSL to talk with you
  • not allow children to be proud of deaf culture
  • criticize your speech and English skills

What WAEML has in place for deaf women, children and young people?

We recognise information can travel quickly within a Deaf, Deafblind or hard of hearing community, compromising confidentiality and your safety.

To improve deaf people’s support if they are experiencing domestic abuse we have put the following services in place:

Email:  you can email us at
Mobile phone service:
Mini com:
  0131 561 9924
Loop System:
 we have a loop system installed within our offices at Dalkeith and Macmerry.  We also have a portable loop system available so if you require this for outreach visits or whilst visiting any of other centres let a support worker know.
BSL interpreters:
 we can arrange a female interpreter if you need to use BSL, if there is someone specifically that you would not wish us to use please just let us know.

  • Honour Based Abuse
  • Forced Marriage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • If English is not your first language
  • Women with no recourse to public funds

Honour Based Abuse

‘Honour-based’ abuse is a crime. It is a form of domestic abuse and is used to control a woman or young person which is carried out by a family or community member. The people who carry out the abuse may say that the woman or young person has brought shame on themselves or their family.

It can take the form of being isolated, threatened, physical violence, extreme pressure and some women have been murdered. Some families/communities abuse women and girls, saying it is because they want to protect the family or community ‘honour’ or ‘izzat’.

  • have a relationship with someone
  • refuse a forced marriage
  • wear make-up or certain clothes or socialising in a way which the family/community disapproves of
  • being, or coming out as, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

What does the law say?

Although there is no specific law that covers honour-based abuse, it is covered by existing legislation. For example, things like physical violenceemotional abusebeing threatened or being isolated from others could be covered by the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. 

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also called cutting or female circumcision or sunna (in some cultures). It means cutting out some or all of a young woman’s genitalia or injuring her genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is a form of domestic abuse. It is very harmful. It is against the law to harm young women in this way. It is also against the law to take someone out of Scotland to have this done overseas.

If you are at risk, or think someone else is, talk to someone you can trust such as a teacher, nurse, doctor or a WAEML support worker. You can also contact the police.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is illegal in Scotland and you have a right to legal protection.

The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in 2011, to protect people who are at risk of forced marriage or have already been forced into marriage. Forced Marriage became a criminal offence in Scotland in 2014, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Marriage should always be a choice, and you should always be able to say no if you don’t want to get married.

Forced marriage is when one or both people don’t freely agree to the marriage. This could be if:

  • You don’t want to get married
  • You can’t legally say yes (for example people under 16 years old or because they don’t have capacity to consent)
  • You feel pressured to say yes. This might be because of force, threats, or emotional pressure such as being told that you will bring shame on the family

Extreme pressure and duress may be used against the parties to force them to go ahead with the marriage. This can involve abusive and bullying behaviour on the part of parents and extended family members.

The types of abusive behaviour can be physical, isolating the person, keeping them at home, away from school, work or college and not allowing them to be out with friends; restricting access to money, and in some extreme cases abduction and murder.

The decision to marry can never be made on behalf of another person.

Forced marriage is different from arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, family often take the lead in setting up and organising the marriage; however, the people getting married have a free choice about whether to get married or not.

Sometimes, people may try to justify forcing someone to marry for cultural or religious reasons, describing it as damaging the family reputation or betraying family honour, but forced marriage is never acceptable. Forced marriage is an abuse of your human rights and it is prohibited by all major religions.

How we can help

Staff at WAEML are here to support anyone who has experienced forced marriage or thinks that they might be at risk. Friends, family, colleagues, professionals, or anyone concerned about someone else, can also contact us.

We have staff who have received additional training to understand of forced marriage and know how to access specialist services if  you are at risk. We’re here for you, to listen without judgement and to provide support or information about your options.

Our service is confidential which means we will never contact your family and we don’t share what you tell us with anyone without your consent (including other agencies like the police or social work) unless we have to in exceptional circumstances. For example, if we believed that someone was in immediate danger or that a child or vulnerable adult was at risk of serious harm.  If we need to share information we try to let you know beforehand.

If English is not your first language

All our staff speak English but we do have bi-lingual staff and will be happy to arrange a staff member to support you in your first language where this is possible.  If we cannot speak to you in your first language we can speak to you through a confidential telephone interpreting service.  If there is someone specifically that you would not wish us to use please just let us know.

If you have no recourse to public funds

Some migrant women are subject to a condition called No Recourse to Public Funds or NRPF, which can have far reaching consequences, particularly those being subjected to domestic abuse or violence.

The NRPF condition affects people who are subject to immigration control (that is, those who do not have a British citizenship) and will include people who are residing in the UK under immigration status such as:

  • Spouse visa
  • Student visa
  • Work permit holders
  • People who have overstayed their temporary visa
  • Undocumented immigrants.

This list is not exhaustive —there are many other situations where a person could have no recourse to public funds attached to their status.

If you are a woman with NRPF and have been subjected to domestic abuse, please contact us for initial advice – we can discuss with you options and additional support we can put in place.  We do accommodate women in our refuge accommodation with NRPF.

We recognise that domestic abuse affects men too.  We do not work with men victims/survivors and we do not employ men.  This is not because we do not validate their experiences or values as allies.  We are a grassroots organisation designed by women for women.  We recognise the impact of men’s violence and patriarchy across all areas of women’s lives and our services and workplace has been created to lessen the impact of patriarchal systems.  We want to ensure there is safe space for change, growth and women’s empowerment.

We are zero tolerate of all abuse and harm and work in partnership with services who provide local support to men victims/survivors.  We encourage men to get involved in campaigns to tackle violence against women and endorse campaigns such as #Don’tBeThatGuy and White Ribbon Campaign.

Help and support for male victims of domestic abuse

  • Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (0800 027 1234)
    Welcomes calls from everyone and provide support to people of all ages, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, nationalities and backgrounds. If English is not your first language, they can speak to you through a confidential telephone interpreting service.   Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (
  • Men’s Advice Line
    Confidential helpline for men experiencing domestic violence from a partner or ex-partner (or from other family members). (
  • Outreach support is offered in East and Midlothian from Fear Free. Their staff can offer a range of support including safety planning, emotional support, advocacy, mentoring, and practical support with housing, employment/education, and assistance to access appropriate benefits.  (

Help and support for male perpetrators of domestic abuse

  • If you are hurting your partner and wish to take steps to address your behaviour please contact Respect (0808 802 4040).

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