We need to work together to eradicate domestic abuse, writes Sam Billingham

As lockdown is slowly being lifted, we must remember that the epidemic domestic abuse, will continue long after the pandemic has disappeared.

Express & Star Talking Point columnist Sam Billingham 





Express & Star Talking Point columnist Sam Billingham . .

We have already seen a spike not only in calls to domestic abuse helplines but also in arrests and, unfortunately, deaths – COVID19 has brought the crime that happens behind closed doors to light but is not the cause of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse happens because abusers choose to abuse, no one chooses to be a victim.

During these uncertain times we have been alone together and we must continue to do so in moving forward.

Many victims of domestic abuse have been furloughed from their job and have had no other opportunity than being in lockdown with their perpetrator. However, slowly as the lockdown measures life, the workplace, for some experiencing domestic abuse, is a safe haven and now is the time for employers to put things in place to keep victims of domestic abuse safe.

Domestic abuse is about power and control, including financial abuse. With many victims losing their jobs because of domestic abuse it’s vital that those in employment are kept safe in the workplace and all employers must have an understanding of the complex cycle.

A victim will endure abuse before coming to work, during work hours, on the way home from work and once they are back behind closed doors.

During work hours a perpetrator has lost full control over their victim because they can’t see who they are talking too, and in order to try and regain that power, they will often bombard them with text messages, constantly call reception or even arrive unannounced in the workplace.

To the outside world they might see a caring partner but in fact they are a controlling perpetrator.

The workplace can in fact be a strong support network for victims, especially those wanting to leave the abusive relationship.

There are subtle procedures that can be put in place by employers, for example, changing work hours, break times or using another entrance door.

Employers must understand that domestic abuse is an issue that happens in the workplace and with a quarter of couples meeting at work, it is highly likely that may companies will have a perpetrator and victim working for them.

It is important for all employers not only to be aware of the early warning signs but also know how to support and signpost victims when necessary.

After losing my job in the early 2000s because of domestic abuse I strongly believe all employers should have a Domestic Abuse Workplace Policy in place, not only acknowledging that domestic abuse happens but also being able to support employees when disclosing that they are a victim.

According to employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse, the statistics say that 56% of employers said that domestic abuse led to absenteeism and 54% said that it caused the quality of their employees’ work to suffer.

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business and we must work together to help eradicate it

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