I’m currently writing a collection of stories from domestic abuse survivors. Under the current backdrop of Covid 19 and with the rise of cases being reported it seemed very topical. 
This book doesn’t fall into the trend of misery memoirs, that are often found on the shelves of book shops. Nor is it a psychologist’s account of recognising and dealing with abuse. 
I’ve read those books, I like those books but I wanted it to be more. I wanted it to be helpful to those who haven’t seen or faced abuse as well as those who are going though it. 
My book is a combination of all of the above but more importantly it offers help and advice to those who are in regular contact with victims- From family members to HR professionals and leaders. 
For the purpose of this blog I’ll focus on how the topic of abuse can be tackled in the workplace. 
There is little content out there to support businesses in protecting employees. For many abuse victims , work is often an outlet and sanctuary. It’s often a place they feel safe but also valued. Particularly if their self-esteem has ebbed away at the speed of knots by repeatedly being told they’re useless. For some it’s the last bit of normality in their lives. 
As a HR professional and abuse survivor, I want to help organisations understand the characteristics of domestic abuse and how to handle it, without stomping the proverbial size 10 boots all over the situation. 
Things that can be done: 
Train HR staff and managers in spotting the signs and having conversations around the topic. A domestic abuse situation may manifest as a mental health problem e.g increased anxiety or concentration problems 
Ensure that employees have access to an assistance programme, counseling or are aware of services to support them. 
Email addresses, telephone numbers may need to change. Train staff on fielding calls and never disclosing information about the victim. 
Be aware of triggers for people. Micro managing and lots of questioning can often be a trigger for someone who has suffered from a coercive controlling partner. 
Ensure that they are in a safe environment and can’t be found. Equip with a safety kit or personal alarm. 
Loosen up on peaks and troughs in productivity. They’ll be times when getting out of bed and to work is all they can do and other times when they’ll work their socks off. 
Don’t assume because a situation has died down that it’s gone away. More often than not there are cycles of abuse and control going on for years, so be patient. Often those supporting victims get bored or find the situation tedious. Believe me, it’s harder living it. 
Domestic abuse has spikes so allow individuals paid time or at least flexibility to deal with things. There may be lots of court cases, authorities to speak to, social services and these can all happen at once particularly following on from a incident. 
Don’t question behaviour that is out of character or make suggestions to leave a partner or just ignore them. Often victims will have personal strategies for dealing with an abuser that may seem odd to you, but trust they understand their situation and are dealing with it. 
Don’t assume because there are no physical signs of abuse, that it isn’t happening. 
Abuse isn’t always a black eye or bruising, it can be coercive and subtle as well as financial or violent. 
We should have people trained up to support victim employees so that they can thrive at work and there is at least one safe place for them to go, 
Lise Kaye-Bell is CEO of Soundproofbox, an organisation offering training to workplaces and schools on the topic of domestic abuse. 
Tagged as: Workplace
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