This article is part 1 of our ‘Choose to Challenge’ campaign. Our mission is to talk openly about subjects that are hard and challenging to address and more importantly change. Our goal is to help employers provide better, safer and more supporting environments for their employees to thrive in. We are beginning our focus on domestic abuse.
In April, May and June of 2020 roughly one 5th of all offences recorded by police in the UK were flagged as domestic abuse. An increase of 5% compared with the same period of the previous year. As lockdown took hold so did domestic abuse – As a business should you do something and if so what?
Firstly, let’s look at what domestic abuse is. It can happen to anyone both men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, age or race and it can occur at any time in a person’s relationship, even after the relationship has ended.
Domestic abuse is where one party tries to control the other. For those living with domestic abuse they may be living with a jealous or possessive partner who is charming one minute and abusive the next.
Domestic abusers may try to control their partner or family member financially.
They may tell them what to wear, monitor their victims’ movements and whereabouts, control who they can speak to or see and pressure them into sex and physically assault them.
Victims will be frightened, intimidated and lack confidence. This includes, emotional abuse, domestic violence, forced marriage and psychological abuse.
Suspecting someone in your workplace is suffering with domestic abuse
First off, if you suspect someone in your business is a victim to domestic abuse you should, approach the individual with care and with empathy and show them you are there to support them. If you have an HR department, make them aware and ask them speak to the individual concerned.
As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees. Domestic abuse is a personal matter and some although desperate for advice, guidance and care may see this as an intrusion into their personal matters.
HR can help to develop a Domestic Abuse awareness programme which includes access to specialist support. Programmes like this are designed to highlight the issues around domestic abuse and provide employees with safe access to support from within the workplace and from external sources.
As an employer you may suspect something is wrong. A direct approach may not initially help and could be dangerous for you and the victim. They might not want to address the situation they are in out of embarrassment or concerns for their safety.
As a caring and supportive employer, you can be there to help domestic abuse victims through their situation. Enabling employees to feel safe and supported is the first step. A domestic awareness programme can be the initial step towards achieving this and will help victims come forward when they need help.
Victims of Domestic Abuse are often told by their abuser that no one will believe they are being treated in this way and that there is no support available to them. However, this is another control technic often used to perpetuate the abuse cycle – in order to combat this:
If children are involved there will be concerns for their welfare. Make sure you clearly inform your employees that there is confidential and safe help available through various support systems, which includes, protecting children, legal issues, housing, financial, benefits and in this new world advice and support around technical abuse.
Supporting someone through domestic abuse is not a quick fix. It can take up to 7 attempts for a woman to leave an abusive partner. Should you see directly any physical or mental harm please call 999.
Women’s Aid are the leading training provider for tackling and preventing domestic abuse. Whilst Women’s Aid work with survivors, providers of domestic abuse services and the police they also work with employers who want to support their staff. Their unrivalled expertise and training courses will equip you with the tools to understand and respond effectively to domestic abuse.
If you think you know of someone in the workplace who is living with an abusive partner, please speak to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on: 0808 2000 247. Their website is also full of great advice and support.
If you want support and help implementing and communicating a Domestic Abuse Awareness Programme for your staff so you are in a better place to help anyone in your team now or in the future, please contact the HR Ready Team today.