Domestic abuse is experienced by women and men of all ages. It may take the form of physical or sexual abuse or it could be mental or emotional abuse. It can even be economic violence where t
he victim is deprived of access to money.
For the 12-month period to year ending March 2020, the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.6 million women and 757,000 men).
In the United States, an estimated 10 million people experience domestic violence every year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. About 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or partner stalking with injury, PTSD, contraction of STDS, etc.
In the UK, ‘increases in demand for domestic abuse support were particularly noticeable following the easing of lockdown measures in mid-May, such as a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases handled by Victim Support in the week lockdown restrictions were eased, compared to the previous week; this reflects the difficulties victims faced in safely seeking support during the lockdown’. (ONS,2020)
Whatever the circumstances, any women who are suffering from domestic abuse will benefit from realizing that they are not alone, and options are available to change their situation.
My guest on Hot Women Rock Radio Show this week, Sharon Livermore, is a domestic abuse survivor, activist, campaigner, who uses her company, Kameo Recruitment, as a platform to raise awareness of domestic abuse. She says that she could so easily have become ‘just another statistic’.
Sharon met her perpetrator while she was at work on a training course. “So, you start off when you meet someone feeling like a princess. You’re being treated. You’re being spoiled. Then you get put in the box and, over time, the box closes and you change your the way you are. To conform with that box, you change how, you are perceived by others, how you dress, how you speak. Eventually you’re trapped in the box and there is no way out of this box. And that’s when you realize that, actually, this is a situation that you don’t potentially want to be in.”
“That was exactly how it was. It just became to a point where, at the time I experienced physical abuse and emotional abuse, but, if I’m honest, in my personal experience the emotional abuse was much harder to live with, because it gave me anxiety it gave me and stress. All of the time I was constantly worrying about what time I was going to get home from work or is he going to turn up at one of my networking events and things like that.”
For Sharon, work became a place where she could feel safe, even if she was receiving phone calls and messages from her perpetrator. Colleagues were unaware of her home situation even though her behavior was changing. She was normally chatty and friendly with clients on the phone but if her perpetrator called she would just be giving ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers to his questions. She always had to leave the office on time in order not to cause problems by getting home late.
“I think is really important for employers to understand that if an employee does come and says that they’re going through this and need help, it may not be helpful to say, ‘Take time off. Go and have some time to yourself’ Potentially that sounds great, but for me when I went through what I did, it would have been dangerous. Fortunately my perpetrator’s plan didn’t work. I’m lucky I’m still here today campaigning. And, I had a police car outside the office protecting me because they hadn’t found him. I refused not to go to work.”
“I think it’s important that employers know that they shouldn’t say ‘you need to do this, or you need to do that’, but they give the victims, the option of whether they want to stay at work or have some time off, etc.”
“Manager’s need to realise that they don’t have to save this person. They need to signpost them to resources and support. I know victims are the best people at keeping themselves safe, and they will tell you that, so they know what they need to do, but absolutely start looking for that support where you can.”
Top Tips for employers
Employers have an important role to play in supporting employees who are experiencing domestic abuse. There are some simple steps they can put in place.
1 Have a policy to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, respond to employee disclosures about abuse, record disclosures, refer employees to specialist resources
2 Train managers to have sensitive conversations about abuse
3 Listen to what the employee says that they need
4 Offer compassionate leave or flexible working if the employee requests it
5 Make contact details for abuse victim support organisations readily available within the workplace
6 Be prepared to call in the police if the employee requires protection or to discuss their options
7 Understand that the employee may need ongoing support for some time while they extricate themselves from the situation and bring the perpetrator to Court.
Top Tips for Women experiencing Domestic Abuse
1 Get support. There are charities and organisations that will advise and support people in these situations.
2 Talk to your work colleagues about what you are experiencing so that they understand more about your situation.
3 Be clear about the support you need.
4 Do not take any information home with you or on your phone in case your perpetrator finds it.
Remember: it’s not your fault, and there is nothing for you to be ashamed of.
You can download a free copy of Sharon’s policy for employers at https://kameorecruitment.com/domestic-abuse/
Domestic Abuse Alliance (UK) https://domestic-abuse.co.uk/
Women’s Aid (UK) https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
National Domestic Violence Hotline (USA) https://www.thehotline.org/