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Speak up: HR’s responsibility to address domestic abuse in the workplace



She comes into work quiet and withdrawn. She’s wearing a blue and white striped top with long sleeves and a grey scarf around her neck.

Nothing strange about that really, except it’s a clear August day and the sun is beautifully warm. I bet you can’t help but think, “odd choice of clothes for a day like today… and why is she so sullen?”

The rollercoaster of the working day begins and the woman in the striped top and scarf around her neck slips to the back of your mind.

The scarf around her neck covers the marks left behind from the hands that were around her neck not 12 hours before. The long sleeves cover her beaten arms. And it’s been a long time since she wore a genuine smile.

This is not story; it’s the harsh reality of 1.5 million people in the UK. This is domestic abuse. And the onus is on all of us to better understand domestic abuse and the impact it has on businesses.

Read more: Domestic abuse: what are your responsibilities as an employer?

The workplace is often the only safe space that victims can physically escape from their perpetrator. Domestic Abuse Education was set up to train businesses on the complexities of domestic abuse.

This includes the role a business can play in supporting employees to come forward and break their silence.

HR often bears the responsibility of ensuring employee wellbeing and they, alongside team leaders, mentors, etc, should feel empowered, confident, and knowledgeable in dealing with domestic abuse cases.

If you are a HR professional reading this, we cannot stress enough that the responsibility to save someone is not on your shoulders. However, the right training should help you recognise, respond, record and refer domestic abuse victims to specialist services.

How HR can best support victims of domestic abuse

Domestic violence and the workplace

Domestic Abuse Education founder, Sharon Livermore, is a domestic abuse survivor. In November 2015, she almost lost her life at the hands of her perpetrator.

She worked alongside seven other people who did not notice her smile fading, and if they did not one of them spoke up. That’s why its so important employers are given the right training to spot the signs.

One in four women and one in six men will be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetime. Look around your office, do a headcount, and know that when you create a safe space, and cultivate an open door culture, employees are more likely to seek help and share their struggles.

Well leave you with this, the opinion of a survivor who received support from their workplace.

“Without the understanding and support of my employer, I literally would, and could, have found myself in a situation 10 times worse than it would have been without their support.

“They were there to support me when I had to reveal I was in a domestic abuse situation, that it was affecting my children’s lives, I had to juggle legal positions and when it affected my mental health. They understood and supported transitioning me back into work.

“Their support has given me a sense of loyalty that I already had, but an extended loyalty that no money can buy.

“That support when you’re at your very lowest by your employer is such a unique and special connection that has powers beyond what an employer would know, and in return, I feel it enhances mutual respect, which in turn means that employees will stay with their employer for a longer period of time”.

Kayleigh Delacey is strategy manager at Domestic Abuse Education

Read the full article here