All victims of domestic abuse should have a safe haven in their workplace

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business.

Sam Billingham
Sam Billingham

The Minister for Business, Paul Scully, says “the Government recognise the powerful role that employers can play in tackling domestic abuse; by supporting employees, raising awareness and tackling the cultural barriers that exist around culture”.

The workplace can be a safe haven for many survivors of domestic abuse but only if employers are

equipped and educated to safely support and signpost survivors.

One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse some point during their lifetime

In 2016/17 the economic cost of domestic abuse was 66 billion pounds in England and Wales.

Fifty-six per cent of employers said that domestic abuse led to absenteeism and 54% said that it caused the quality of their employees work to suffer

Only five per cent of employers have specific domestic abuse policies or guidelines in place, but all will have some staff affected by domestic abuse

On average one person a year discloses domestic abuse at work.

In the early 2000s I lost my job as a Legal Secretary because of domestic abuse. I tried to explain to my employer what was happening to me behind closed doors but my words fell on deaf ears. I wasn’t supported but sacked instead.

As an employee, my time keeping was impeccable, I never had an unauthorised absence and I always gave 110% in all that I did.

Unbeknown to my employer he had put me at further risk of abuse, control and violence by sacking me from my safe haven. I believe that all victims of domestic abuse should have a safe haven in their workplace, which is why I am delighted to be an Ambassador for Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse.

Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse is a growing network of large and small businesses with a mission to enable employers to take action on domestic abuse – raising awareness among all employees, supporting those facing domestic abuse and providing services to help perpetrators to stop.

When employers demonstrate that they are aware of domestic abuse and make staff aware of the services that are available, this can reduce the wall of silence about domestic abuse that prevents many from seeking help.

Only through greater awareness, relationship building and the sharing of best practice can we make a systematic change to the way domestic abuse is handled.

Domestic abuse has a huge impact on a survivor's working life and the abuse doesn't stay at home, perpetrators still abuse their partners in the workplace, which can include but is not limited to: bombarding them with calls and texts; turning up at the workplace unannounced, and purposely keeping them awake the night before work so they can’t function properly the next day

I would encourage all employers to sign up as a free Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse member today to become part of a dynamic community to help deliver positive change for their employees by working collectively to take action on domestic abuse.

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