Domestic violence is often a phrase that frightens not only people who endure, but also those who witness, family members, children and, well, most of us. It is a silent epidemic that many people, especially in their workplaces, shy away from speaking about. It is a term we use interchangeably with domestic abuse, both addressing the power and control of one person over another. Domestic abuse is a way we acknowledge coercive control, financial abuse, sexual violence, emotional manipulation, stalking as forms we are now including as part of the epidemic of abuse. It forms the pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour that men and women will endure. In the last year, 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men have experienced domestic abuse, equivalent to an estimated 1.4 million female victims and 700,000 male victims. With over 30 million people working in England and Wales, people who endure, witness and perpetrate abuse are working.
The 16 Days of Action is an international campaign highlighting abuse, violence and ways all sectors of society can come together to build safer lives. It has it’s very strong roots in the women’s movement. The 16 Days starts on 25 November with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Domestic Violence and Ends with International Human Rights Day on December 10. Last year, PHE and The Alliance worked collaboratively to create a toolkit for businesses to be part of the awareness raising, discussion and action during this critical Campaign (www.16daysofaction.co.uk).
Businesses do so much to support their employees – from wellness programs to health and fitness and mental health provision. Yet there is a taboo that is often too hard to get their head around – how dv isn’t a personal issue and does come to work. Currently, most employers understand domestic violence to take place only within the home. However, we now know that 75% of those who endure domestic violence suffer at work. This is because they are constantly locatable in their office. It is possible the person enduring changed home, switched their childs’ school, but it is most likely that they retained their same job. Hence, why that statistic indicated a vast number of employees being targeted.
16 Days is both important and applicable for all types of workplaces, whether you have 10 or 10,000 employees because the emotional and physical injury a person who endures will most likely put them out of work. Those who endure miss on average 5 days of work a month or are typically less productive even if they do make it into the office. For small companies, domestic violence will have an obvious and huge effect. Losing one of 10 employers, let’s say, would cost the company money and manpower on a very large scale. For larger companies, the impact would be more easily hidden. However, the impact is still real, as the larger the company, the more likely multiple employees are enduring. And one of those could possibly be a senior employee. If not, that same senior employee could educate himself or herself to aid their employees who are hoping to disclose and find help.
The 16 Days of Action is a critical time for businesses to look at their role in how they support their staff. This can be for those who endure, perpetrate or witness violence, or perhaps a friend or family member who is so overcome with distress that they need help too. The Alliance will work with all employers to assist in providing support and strategic consultancy on their journey. Over the past year we have helped 137 member and non-member companies with cases from all sorts of businesses who have sought assistance. All of these employees are safe, in work and their employees are safe.
Over the next 16 Days we will share experiences of how dv resonates in the lives of our businesses and friends. We will discuss solutions and ways to make a difference. We will share our learnings and encourage those who read the blog to share their experiences as well.
We now see that employee wellbeing is inextricably linked with productivity and company success. The key to tackling domestic violence is to ensure that management understands the issue, their legal obligations surrounding it, and educate them on what simple steps can save an employee’s life.
The Corporate Alliance