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Ask Ash

14 November 16

Advice column: my colleague appears to be raising issues of domestic abuse

Dear Ash

One of my work colleagues has recently began to confide in me about issues to do with her personal life. I’m finding the situation really awkward, especially as she seems to suggest that there are issues of domestic abuse: however I’m not even that close to her.

I’m not sure what I can do as she also seems determined not to leave her partner. There are times when I have suggested that my colleague should consider leaving her partner and she seems to agree, but then I discover her later lovingly speaking about him with other colleagues! I would prefer to stay out of my colleague’s love life, but feel I’m being dragged into the situation.

Ash replies:

I appreciate that your colleague is making you feel uncomfortable about the situation and although you do not claim to have a particularly close friendship, this may be exactly why your colleague is confiding in you. Sometimes it is easier to confide in a stranger than someone close to you.

Many people embroiled in abusive relationships find it difficult to leave, and statistically even if they do leave are likely to return to the toxic relationship on numerous occasions; therefore do not necessarily expect a swift conclusion to your colleague’s situation.

I suggest, however, that you make clear to your colleague that she does have real options and that she should consider contacting LawCare and/or Scottish Women’s Aid as a starting point to allow her to discuss options with people in the know. She may find more comfort from speaking with such organisations and it may take the pressure off you too.

Be patient, and try to take some comfort from the fact that she clearly thinks you are someone that can be trusted and confided in.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:

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