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Tragic story of Emily used to tackle abuse

Emily Drouet
Emily Drouet

Fiona Drouet appreciates nothing will ever bring her daughter back.

But the mother of the 18-year-old Aberdeen University student, who killed herself last year after she was verbally and physically abused by fellow student Angus Miligan, is determined to make sure other families are spared her grief.

That’s why she has allowed her daughter’s face to appear in a new campaign to tackle bullying and gender-based violence at Scotland’s universities.

Mrs Drouet spoke yesterday about the initiative, which is being launched tomorrow by the National Union of Students and features posters, help cards, the hashtag #emilytest and 16 days of action.

She said: “We know, from our own experiences, how you can have suspicions, but if there aren’t adequate support measures in place, you don’t know how to react to the signs.

“I want to make sure every university and college has trained staff, people who can deal with situations where students go to them for help if they are being abused, whether it’s physical or pyschological.

“Looking back, we know now Emily was deeply traumatised by what Milligan put her through, and she felt isolated. But there wasn’t any one thing we could put our finger on. And that’s why we are heartbroken, we just didn’t pull it all together.”

Milligan, 21, was convicted of abusing Ms Drouet in July this year and sentenced to 180 hours community service and put on a year’s supervision order.

But he sparked new controversy last Thursday when he turned up at a St Andrew’s night ball at the Ardoe House Hotel, outside Aberdeen, which was attended by several of Ms Drouet’s friends.

The NUS campaign urges students to speak to the relevant authorities if they have concerns they or any of their peer groups are suffering abuse.

Women’s officer, Shuwanna Aaron, said: “We need staff training at every campus. Students, too, need access to training.”

Mrs Drouet added: “In the longer term, we need to start educating youngsters from an earlier age and deal in prevention before it requires intervention. But that isn’t going to happen overnight.”

An Aberdeen University spokesman responded yesterday: “The safety and wellbeing of our students is our number one priority, and we offer our wholehearted support to campaigns that draw attention to the serious issue of domestic violence and help to keep more people safe.

“The university offers a comprehensive range of support services. We urge anyone experiencing difficulties to contact our trained advisers who are happy to discuss these concerns confidentially.”

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