Psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse can take many forms.

What is gender based violence?

Gender based violence describes a spectrum of behaviour that starts with objectification and unwanted comments and includes: intimidation, harassment, online abuse, intimate image sharing, domestic abuse, physical and emotional abuse, stalking, sexual assault and murder. The term also includes commercial sexual exploitation and so-called ‘honour based’ violence, including, female genital mutilation, forced marriages and ‘honour’ crimes. Scotland uses the term gender based violence because women and girls are much more likely to experience it and men most likely to perpetrate it as a result of continued inequality in our society. However, the term recognises that men and the LGBT+ community can be victims too.

Action taken by Scotland’s universities and colleges

In 2018 every member of staff working in Scotland’s colleges and universities was given a card to carry which lists the national, specialist support services for gender based violence and the support services provided by each college and university.

The cards are one of the objectives of the #EmilyTest campaign led by Fiona Drouet. Fiona wants all staff to have access to a card so that no one lacks the basic information they need to provide survivor-centred support to someone making a disclosure. Over 100,000 copies of the cards are now in circulation in our universities and colleges.

The cards are not a substitute for first responder or bystander training. They complement the work that colleges and universities have underway to prevent and intervene in gender based violence. That journey is a longer one. The cards are an interim measure to recognise the reality that not all college or university staff will have received training in how to handle a disclosure of gender based violence, and very few will be experts, but anyone might receive a disclosure.

About Emily

Emily Drouet was in her first year of university and only 18 years old, when she was subjected to a campaign of abuse and violence from her boyfriend. Tragically, Emily took her own life on 17th March 2016 just minutes after her abuser, another student, visited her room unannounced. Anyone can experience gender based violence. Emily was intelligent and independent, with good friends and a very close family. Her family are tormented by “what ifs” and want to do all they can to ensure this does not happen to anyone else.

The cards have a very practical purpose but they also pay tribute, in a very small way, to Emily Drouet. The idea for the cards belongs to Emily’s mum, Fiona Drouet. Fiona has been closely involved in every step of their development. The cards are printed in pink, Emily’s favourite colour. Knowing the story behind the card’s colour, we hope survivors and those using the cards to tackle gender based violence, will take away the message to be proud of who you are. Fiona Drouet continues to campaign for a wide range of actions to prevent gender based violence and support survivors with the #EmilyTest. We believe that Emily would be incredibly proud of the campaign led by her mum to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Just as the Drouet’s will be always be proud of Emily.


What else you can do

If you work in a college or university and want to find out more about your institution’s policies or the training that might be available to you, contact your Human Resources department to find out more.

You might also be interested in the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit. The Toolkit was launched in the spring of 2018 after a pilot exercise at the University of Strathclyde. It is now being rolled out across the sector as good practice in campus policy, safety, prevention, early intervention and education around gender based violence. The cards’ development was informed by input from Anni Donaldson and the wider team behind the ESHE Toolkit. The ‘6 steps to guide your conversation’ as featured on the leaflet and on this microsite is adapted from guidance in the Toolkit.

Staff working in colleges can find out more about their role in safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults from resources developed by the College Development Network.

You can follow ESHE on Twitter @equallysafeHE to stay informed of developments including a community of practice being developed by the team behind the Equally Safe Toolkit.

A set of digital assets are available to complement the cards are available to those working in colleges, universities and private accommodation providers across Scotland. The assets are intended to help raise awareness of the cards as a resource to support staff and students. If you would like to use the assets please contact:

Thank you

A lot of people and organisations gave their time, energy and expertise on this project. Firstly, thank you to Fiona Drouet, to whom the idea of the card belongs. Thanks also to NUS Scotland, which first piloted the idea of the cards in December 2017. The copy and design of the cards was tested in five different focus groups with students, staff and survivors over the summer. Thanks to Abertay University, NUS Scotland, UCU Scotland and Young Scot for hosting the focus groups, to staff at Dundee and Angus College for taking part and a big thanks to Emmaleena Kakela, who ran three of the focus groups for us. Thanks to the members of the steering group including: AMOSSHE Scotland College Development Network, Colleges Scotland, the ESHE team at Strathclyde, NUS Scotland, Scottish Government, Scottish Women’s Aid, UCU Scotland, and Universities Scotland. The full membership list can be found here. Thanks to the Scottish Government for committing resource to help the early development of the cards, to Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski and Robert Gordon University for its support with the procurement exercise and to every college and university in Scotland for working with us to customise, finance and distribute the cards.