All posts by Corporate Alliance

Say “No More” to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

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Lyndsey 2

Last week was UK SAYS NO MORE week, where organisations and individuals came together from across the UK to say NO MORE to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

As a founding partner of the campaign we are thrilled to announce that global legal practice Hogan Lovells have joined as an official partner of Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE campaign. As part of this partnership, Hogan Lovells have become a client of The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence to launch their organisational domestic violence policy.

In 2016, Hestia was chosen as Hogan Lovells’ Charity Partner, and have generously provided Hestia with invaluable support.

During UK SAYS NO MORE Week 2017, Hogan Lovells launched a domestic violence policy for their staff, with support from UK SAYS NO MORE and partner The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence.

 

Find out more from Hogan Lovells about what they do:

Hogan Lovells is a global legal practice that helps corporations, financial institutions, and governments across the spectrum of their business and legal issues globally and locally. They have over 2,500 lawyers operating out of more than 45 offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.

They combine broad and deep transactional and dispute resolution capabilities enabling them to act on the largest and most complex transactions and cases around the world, with an exceptional regulatory practice, and world leading IP and commercial law capabilities. Hogan Lovells exists to help clients with all their most important matters around the world. They believe that our ability to see business from all perspectives allows them to help clients effectively in today’s – and tomorrow’s – challenging business climate. They provide a partner-led service to ensure the highest quality.

Their commercial and regulatory work give them the insight and business edge which complement their work on transactions and disputes. They listen to their clients, tailoring their advice based on a deep understanding of client needs. This, combined with their knowledge of markets and industry sectors, provides the foundation for their advice.

 

So, why should organisations have a domestic violence policy?

Many of us spend a significant amount of time at work or doing activities connected to work – in addition to the time spent thinking and planning work. As an employer you have a number of legislated responsibilities towards your employees and additionally have a moral and social responsibility towards staff, stakeholders and customers.

Some organisations translate this responsibility into having health and wellbeing policies, private medical care, access to gym membership, loyalty cards and employee assistance programmes. Although having access to these things makes employees feel connected, valued and proud of a company, there is still more employers can do.

 

Employers have an opportunity:

  • Last year (2016), 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men experienced domestic violence, equivalent to an estimated 1.4 million female victims and 700,000 male victims. This equates to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men
  • 1/3 of all domestic violence homicides happen on work premises
  • In financial terms, domestic abuse costs UK businesses £1.9 Billion per year in lost productivity and absenteeism. This figure does not address the emotional and psychological toll of coercive control
  • 2% of women will lose their job due to the effects of abuse and violence

Start by getting involved – join the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign as an official partner and say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault.

 

Introduce a domestic violence policy for in your workplace the policy should discuss the following:

1) Define domestic abuse

Jasmine told me:

‘I had been married to my husband for six weeks when he first hit me, he said it was my fault for staying late at work. Six years months past and I was now pregnant, whilst looking through our HR polices for our family policy, when I found the organisations DV policy – I spent an hour reading it over and over again, I realised what I was experiencing was not okay, I used the telephone number and called an IDVA. No-one at work every knew what I had experienced or how that policy changed my life’

2) Your policy should highlight the resources available and enable your management team respond appropriately to domestic abuse disclosures.

You can use the How to Help postcards (also available for supporting men and LGBTQ+) which can be printed and used to initiate a conversation which supports someone who is experiencing domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Hestia

3) Discuss opportunities for victims of abuse to receive support from specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence support services.  Include, in your policy information for abusers about specialist perpetrator intervention programs.

Aamina told me:

‘I’d been married for three years; he controlled everything that I did. He picked and dropped me off at work. Monitored my phone calls and would not allow me to use the computer at home. I was desperate to talk to someone but too afraid to tell anyone at work, in case they found me to be a nuisance and fired me.  The day that changed my life clearly, Our Company – a large accountancy firm launched their HR DV policy during our annual conference. They spoke about the support that was available within our company and that there is specialist support services for victims of domestic abuse.

This was the first time I had heard that support was available for people like me… a victim of abuse perpetrated by my husband. I contacted the Independent domestic violence advocate service. My managers enabled me to meet them at work during work hours without this opportunity I would not have been able to get the advice and support that I needed. I now live in another city, my children and I spent six months in a refuge and my employer relocated me to a satellite office, in the new city. We are now safe, children are at school and I have just been promoted’.

4) And finally, work with a victim to keep them safe at work.

Thomas told me:

‘I was terrified as I knocked on the director’s door, I had just been promoted to senior management and now I was knocking on her door to tell him that I needed to resign, after months of working towards this promotion. I had tell them that it wasn’t safe for me to come to work, my ex-girlfriend had sent over fifty messages this weekend, with many of containing threats of how she would ruin me at work and in public. She said that she would tell my boss that I had stolen money, that I was addicted to pornography and that I was a drug user and would continue coming to my workplace if we didn’t get back together – I was left with no choice, I had to resign, not only were her allegations completely untrue but my job required me to have a positive professional profile and these allegations would have ruined me and brought my company into disrepute.  

When I told him that I had to resign he asked me why, I said my ex-girlfriend, I struggled to find the rest of the words. So he did, he started telling me that he had attended a lunch time talk about domestic abuse and that he had been surprised at the number of men who experience domestic abuse or stalking for their partners and that the statistics indicate that one in six men will experience abuse. It had made him think of his team and how in some of our office banter about our weekends and how we have laughed when one of us may have mentioned that our partner was checking our phones, controlling our time and making threats to prevent separation. He said that we shouldn’t laugh as this behaviour is not okay. He gave me the phone number for a specialist support service – which was great; they helped me obtain an injunction that prevented her from contacting me or my employer.

My employer were great too, security were notified and they would not grant access, reception were told to not put any calls through to me from her and as I had told my boss about the treats we were able to put a plan in place to not only prevent it but to respond if it did happen. Having my companies support was invaluable to me during this time’.

 

Introducing a domestic violence policy at work has a secondary benefit and contributes directly to a positive society– You start the conversation…

And that’s how we, at UK SAYS NO MORE see that we can together end domestic abuse and sexual assault. We have to initiate the conversations about domestic abuse and sexual violence in our work places, at home: around the dining room table, in social settings and on social media. Talking about it and naming it enables victims to come forward and ask for help. It enables us to offer the support that the victims truly need.

 

Lyndsey Dearlove

Violence Against Women & Girls Partnership Manager

Hestia Housing & Support

Hestia logo

Mental Health Awareness Week – an experience

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Torie1

Last week was Mental Health Awareness week. This was a great opportunity to learn that mental health is something of immense importance, affecting millions of people, and something of which society and politicians still require further education. Rather than affecting “only” the individual with the diagnosis, employers are starting to realise that the myriad of mental health illnesses negatively affects them, due to staff absenteeism, loss of productivity and turnover.  This epidemic is causing a loss to the UK economy of around 4.5% of GDP, equating to $128.745 billion.

I personally have a passion to ensure positive action is taken for mental health best practice. Now that we can begin to talk about mental illness, it is critical that the topic does not fall by the wayside for the remaining 51 weeks of the year. Mental health is a topic for everyone; those either with a diagnosis, friends, family or employers.

Given each person “knows” 100 people, then each person knows approximately 25 people who have, have had or will have mental health problems. Last week I attended a conference held at UBS by Employees Matter. It had a tremendous impact on me, opened the eyes of the audience and increased knowledge of the different types of mental illness; with speakers diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Bipolar 1. Each of the professionals were incredibly brave and open regarding how the conditions had and still do affect their lives. Of course, emotionally and physically the effects were painful and exhausting. They spoke of how it affected their careers, their relationships and those around them. But with professional help they are coping and managing their lives. Key was also how their employers engaged with diagnosis and treatment plans. They were all very intelligent people. They all managed other people. They were not threatening to anyone else. They were inspiring and extremely brave.

One thing that resonated with me is that mental illness does not happen in isolation.  It can impact anyone.  This got me thinking, and, as you do, looking up the current facts of the linkages between mental health, domestic abuse and coercive control. People who are victims of domestic abuse of any kind are 68% more likely to experience depression. Statistically, this speaks volumes: 58% of abused women miss at least 3 days of work a month, 16% of men are affected by domestic violence during their adult lifetimes and 75% of people who endure domestic violence are targeted at work. Abuse wasn’t mentioned the UBS/Employees Matter event, but perhaps that’s an indication of how like mental illness, domestic abuse is something hugely stigmatised.

I am energized to take forward the messages I heard and experienced all of last week: let us erase the stigma of mental illness and find pathways of support and care through education and action.  It will help those who are fearful and ignorant take action too.  Let us listen without judging. Let the Government and employers help employees through noting difficulties and enabling access to professional treatment quickly and have the compassion and care to walk the journey with us.

Torie Robinson

MD – Media Evolution Ltd

Social Media Management

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Mental Health Awareness Week & Domestic Violence

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Lorna Gavin

I am so glad that Prince Harry has spoken about his mental health issues.  It has shone a spotlight on mental health – and the need to talk about it and the fact that it is okay to talk about it – in a way that few others could achieve.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Why do I want to talk about mental health and domestic violence?  Because the impact on the mental health of people who are enduring or have endured domestic abuse is all too often overlooked and belittled.  Yet time and again, survivors of the most horrendous physical domestic abuse say that the hardest thing they have to live with are the mental scars.

Do we not talk about mental health in the context of domestic violence because mental scars and traumas are harder to see than a bruised or broken limb, a black eye, a thick lip, a cigarette burn?  That will be part of it.  But I think it’s also because mental health is difficult and awkward to talk about full stop.

And let’s not forget the scale of the problem.  One in four women and one in six men endure domestic violence at some stage in their adult lives.  Those statistics are based on cases reported to the police.  In almost all cases of domestic abuse involving physical violence, there was associated mental abuse.   And how many more cases of domestic abuse – often building and building over years, yet never involving a physical attack – are simply never reported to the police because there’s a sense that perhaps a crime hasn’t been committed?

Well it has.

In 2015 a new offence of coercive or controlling behaviour was introduced and it was brought in precisely in recognition of the impact that mental and emotional abuse can have.  It is defined as ‘a purposeful pattern of incidents that occur over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another’.  It carries a maximum term of 5 years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.

Yes, it is hard facing up to and talking about mental health issues – Prince Harry will attest to that.  Imagine how hard then it must be to come forwards and talk about damage to your emotional and mental health at the hands of a spouse, partner or family member.  And who can you talk to about it?  Perhaps, actually, an understanding employer.  The Corporate Alliance helps employers to help employees who are enduring domestic violence – emotional, sexual, physical or mental.  I am proud to be an Ambassador for the Alliance because I know they can help save lives.

So it’s good to talk about mental health – in Mental Health Awareness Week and every week.

 

Lorna Gavin

Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility

Gowling WLG (UK) LLP (the new name for Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co)

Interning with the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence

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Yelena

Interning with the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence has definitely been a great learning experience for me. I’ve previously held an internship where I worked on social media and some aspects of marketing for a small bar and music venue in my hometown. Working with a non-profit is different. We are working more to inform the public about what we do and our value and get to businesses involved instead of just selling a simple product that people need, like food.

 

What I’ve found most beneficial is working with the Alliance Ambassador, Media Evolution CEO Torie Robinson.  Torie focuses on social media planning and marketing. I’ve been working closely with her and have learned how to target specific social media to different audiences and the importance of understanding the message that a company wants to present and how to express that message on different social media platforms.  I created a Facebook page to help the Alliance reach more of their core audience.

 

On top of that, I’ve been working on a branding project for a toolkit which we will be part of our service provision to clients.  At first, I thought that I would dislike branding because when I was presented with the project, I barely knew the company and was a little nervous about how I would be able portray the charity as well as the work. However, branding has been quite enjoyable. It was a later project, which meant that I got to know the company and understand what was important to the core values.  What I found most important about the Corporate Alliance’s values is that they go the extra mile. Although there is a baseline for what the organisation provides, every single business involved in the Corporate Alliance is treated individually and the policies and efforts provided by the organisation are specific to that company. This is a tall feat due to the fact that Melissa usually does most visits personally and in person, which makes for a busy schedule, but a big impact on the safety of domestic violence victims.

 

One of my favorite parts about my internship is attending various round tables and client meetings with Melissa. It genuinely makes me happy to see people and companies who are so passionate about taking care of their employees and being as flexible as possible when it comes to accommodating them. Domestic Violence issues can carry into the workplace. While I view my work-space as something that is separate from my home and social life, most people can’t say the same thing. This goes just beyond domestic violence issues, but just disabilities in general. Domestic Violence victims can experience the “stereotypical” physical harm but the mental impacts are just as important. Businesses are willing to accommodate people to work at home, different work hours and fit the environment for that employee.

 

Working with Melissa has been great. I’m from America so some of the terms that she uses I don’t understand because of the slight language barrier. She is always willing to clarify things for me and offers help or clarification before I can even ask. She also has been full of praise and reassurance, which has been helpful because I’ve never done a lot of the projects or things that she has asked of me, but I haven’t felt overwhelmed or like the work that I was doing, was just random intern work. Melissa gives me important work and projects which makes me feel like I’m genuinely making a contribution that matters to the organisation instead of just doing coffee runs or making photocopies.

 

On top of the work place experience, I’ve also received lots of information and have been educated about domestic violence and how it impacts not just the victim at home, but in the workplace. I always knew that domestic violence was an issue, but I never realised how broad it was until I started working with the Corporate Alliance. This has made me more aware of my surroundings and looking out for warning signs before it’s too late.

 

Yelena Wermas, Marketing Intern

Domestic Abuse & Employer Responsibility, by Felicity Smith

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Felicity

Over the last few days I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage about Domestic Abuse… Whether it’s this image which was on the Huffington Post, the story about the judge who said that a victim of domestic abuse couldn’t have been a victim because of her class or Martine McCutcheon talking on loose women in reference to Mel B’s divorce.  However, with the rate of Domestic Abuse I’m surprised to not see more…

 

One in four women and one in six men will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.  Where to do they get help?  How can they ask for help?  Walking into a police station and asking for assistance is a massive step and one that seems so far removed for many victims that they can’t do it.

 

As employers, we often tell or expect our employees to leave their lives at the door, and come in and do their job.  It’s the expected thing amongst established work places.  When we do chat about our lives that exist beyond the four walls of the building, it’s often stories of where we’re going on holiday, how the kids are excelling at school and how we got drunk at the weekend and had an amazing time.

 

Is it time to ask our employees to be more real?

 

So, if you are an employer, or part of a team at work, I challenge you this… Next time you’re in a team meeting, or an open plan office, look around.  One in four women and one in six men will be a victim… How many people do you have in your team? Obviously we cannot make assumptions about people that we work with, but are we listening to each other and being aware of the possible risks?

 

Then let me say this, 20% of employed women take time off work and 8% lose their jobs as a direct result of domestic violence.  Do you know how to spot domestic violence?  Do you know how to talk to your team about the issue safely?

 

How about this stat: 75% of people who endure violence are targeted at work… So asking staff to leave their lives at the door doesn’t work anymore.  It’s happening at your work, on your property, to your staff.

 

Less than 30% of all workplaces know how to respond when someone discloses domestic abuse.  It’s not so simple as just referring someone to a service, more support needs to be given.  Do you know how to do this?

 

This is why I champion the work of The Corporate Alliance so much but I understand that it requires us to be different employers.  ‘Knowing that my work understood the impact of domestic violence – both physical and emotional – and was there to support me has been my biggest pillar of strength throughout all this’ – a victim of Domestic abuse said this about an organisation The Corporate Alliance had trained.

 

As an employer, can your employees say this about you?

 

Felicity Smith, Ambassador at The Corporate Alliance

 

Meet our new Board member, Sara Hamilton

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Sara Hamilton

Sara is a lawyer and Operations Officer in the EMEA Legal and Compliance Division at Morgan Stanley.  Sara also completed her LLM by Research on Women’s Rights in Japan: A study of Violence against Women.

Firstly, I am delighted to have been invited to join the board of the Corporate Alliance. My first task is to develop the 2017-8 business plan, including our key objectives. As for all charitable organisations, funding remains a priority.  As such, I have been asked, given the number of different organisations in the DV sector, what makes the Corporate Alliance different. Not only are we the only charitable organisation working on a business-to-business platform to advise companies in addressing and mitigating the risk domestic violence poses to their company and employees, but I have also seen how impactful the Corporate Alliance can be in real situations.

Others have also asked, why work with employers when you are seeking to address ‘domestic’ violence and abuse?

Firstly, employers have responsibilities towards their employees, with regards their health and safety: 5% of people enduring violence are targeted at work, through social media, site visits, phone calls and a myriad of other ways. Further, most employers are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their employees, whatever the cause.

Statics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are affected by domestic violence or abuse. That includes the approximately 30 million people employed in the UK.  That means that some of your employees or colleagues are statistically likely to be or have been enduring domestic violence and abuse. But it remains a silent phenomenon – what you may see are external signs, such as absence from work, distraction at work, unusual reactions to situations (such as calls from a partner), difficulties building relationships at work, depression…etc. and these are just a few I have come across. In any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of domestic violence.

Therefore, statistically, your business or organisation is likely to have employees who have experienced domestic violence and abuse – but have those individuals and their experiences been dealt with in an appropriate manner, have they been supported in a way that has enabled them to remain employed and engaged?

It is worth noting that the workplace can be a safe haven, a place where the individual may be able to get the help and support they need, which once they step out of the building, is impossible.

Importantly, awareness and sensitivity by an organisation may actually help individuals understand and identify their experience as one of abuse, which is often the first step in receiving life changing (and possibly lifesaving) help. Earlier intervention can significantly reduce the impact of domestic violence and abuse, which can have long term and disastrous effects on the individual and their families. It also makes economic sense, reducing the impact on resources through work absenteeism and use of health/wellbeing services, as well as on a broad range of public services.

We work with employers to develop a framework to help meet their obligations and objectives with regards the health, work and wellbeing of their employees, whilst linking directly with the DV sector for specialist support.

I have seen the value of the Corporate Alliance’s work, how an awareness campaign allowed an individual to identify their experience and then start the process of taking necessary legal steps, recovery from the trauma it had caused and rebuilding the lives of the entire family.

By implementing small and inexpensive changes, businesses can make a profound difference to an individual’s experience of domestic violence and abuse – changes such as offering flexible working to attend appointments with support agencies, temporary changes to working times and patterns, as well as steps to create a safe working environment such as call screening.

I applaud the Government’s efforts to tackle domestic violence and abuse and call on business and organisations to play their part.

 

 

Epilepsy and Domestic Violence

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Torie today  Brain op scab3

Now!                                                   4 years ago!

 

Epilepsy is something that I developed as a young child. It was rather mild initially as even my parents didn’t notice my seizures for years. It turns out that I’d been having absence seizures (relatively mild things where I “zoned out” for a few seconds). Aged 10 I was diagnosed with epilepsy and put straight onto meds.

My medication made me very tired. I couldn’t ever get enough sleep. Family thought that I was being lazy. I felt so alone because no one understood, no one seemed interested and no one else thought my epilepsy was a big deal. I felt ashamed. Depression took hold from an early age. I became withdrawn and isolated.

The seizures got progressively worse in my twenties and I started to have tonic-clonic seizures where I lost consciousness, my limbs became rigid and I was shaking around on the floor (the ones that many think of as a seizure). My brain was really “going for it”. I smashed my left clavicle (2 operations required). I ended up on a railway line. I stopped breathing. I was getting very upset and annoyed with it all.

I managed to “cope” with high pressured finance roles in London and Melbourne. I tried not to let my seizures affect me. However, there is only so stubborn one can be. They were much more frequent, sometimes 3 a month, sometimes 1 every couple of months. Either way, my life expectancy was significantly reduced and the dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of seizures was out of my control.

I managed to find myself a fantastic Neurologist who specialised in epilepsy at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. I was interested in potential surgery so put myself forward for video telemetry and I was very lucky – by inducing a seizure, the neurologist was able to identify the specific part of my brain from which the seizures originated. Then came the operation! I had a temporal lobe resection, which in English means that they removed the damaged part of my brain. It was traumatic and made my depression even worse for a time. But now I have approx. 1 seizure per year. Wow. It has been amazing.

I now work with Epilepsy Action, the largest Epilepsy charity in the UK, to raise awareness, support research and reduce discrimination. Thank you to them for my Media Volunteer of the Year Award!

*Some cases of epilepsy have a clear cause. It is suspected that mine may have been due to an hour-long febrile seizure (seizure caused by a fever) which I had as a baby.


 

We are so proud of our Ambassador Torie Robinson for speaking up and informing us about epilepsy.  Her clarity brings us an understanding we would never have without her strong and radiant voice.  Many of us are not aware that epilepsy has many forms and many causes and the impact this illness has on the lives of our friends, family and even ourselves.

Torie’s article got me thinking: can domestic abuse and violence cause epilepsy? So, being ever so scientific, I took to the internet and did some research. This was not at all scientific nor exhaustive.

There does not seem to be conclusive evidence in British Journals.  However, there were two studies that peeked my curiosity.

A study published in the scientific journal Epilepsia (Sept 2016), demonstrates that people with epilepsy were seven times more likely to report experiencing discrimination due to health problems compared to people without epilepsy. This figure was considerably higher than for people with diabetes, asthma and migraines; when compared with people without each of these conditions respectively.

According to the data, people with epilepsy were more likely to have suffered domestic violence and sexual abuse than the “general population”; however, these associations were similar in the people with other chronic conditions (diabetes, asthma and migraines)

The links between epilepsy and domestic violence are furthered discussed in “When Love Goes Wrong – Intimacy and Epilepsy” (4 April 2015).

 

In the most recent attack, her husband beat her with a board, leaving her with permanent brain damage and a life-long disability.

As a result of her injury, she now has frequent seizures, difficulty with balance, and is terrified to leave her home for fear of having a seizure or falling.

Domestic violence does not just leave deep psychological scars on its victims — it also leaves physical ones — often in the form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

Despite this, we fail to recognise the effects a brain injury may have on a victim of domestic violence.

Short term memory loss, mood swings, seizures; these are just a few examples of the legacy that TBI leaves behind.

Both brain injury and domestic violence are recognised public health problems in the United States. The estimated annual costs for TBI are $48.3 billion and $5-10billion (USD) for domestic violence. Up to 35% of women’s visits to A&E are related to injury from ongoing abuse.

Typically, injuries resulting from domestic violence include fractures, eye and ear injuries, lacerations and brain injuries. Furthermore, brain injuries occur in up to 36% of domestic abuse related injuries.

Sexual assault and domestic violence staff identify 35% of female victims as potentially brain injured.

These findings suggest that 18% of domestic violence victims who come to A&E for their injuries have residual symptoms as a result of brain injury and as many as 67% suffer with one or more elements of Post Concussive Syndrome.”

What Torie has done is opened a pathway for all of us to have a discussion regarding the impacts of epilepsy. Her comments also help us think about epilepsy in the context of abuse and violence; her epilepsy was not a result of abuse. However, there is a growing need to see the long-term health conditions resulting from abuse and violence.

 

If you are affected by any of these issues, please contact: 

The National Domestic Violence Helpline 24-hour National Domestic Violence

Freephone Helpline 0808 2000 247

(Run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge)

Refuge logo womens aid logo

If you are affected by epilepsy, please contact:

Epilepsy Action

Freephone Helpline for epilepsy advice and information: 0808 800 5050

Epilepsy Action Logo (2)

 

 

 

 

Mothering Sunday

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On Mothers Day, many of the 1 in 4 women who are surviving domestic abuse may wake up scared and anxious about what the day could bring rather than looking forward to a day of love and appreciation. I was really saddened when I found out that instances of domestic violence increase on this day and it’s really made me think about how much more we should do to support people who want to escape (and stay escaped). We all have the power to reach out and tell people that abuse is not their fault.

The Charity for Civil Servants and Law Express have recently produced a legal information app which can be downloaded from our website – it contains a wide range of information about legal matters that most commonly affect us – including the impact of domestic violence. It’s a simple app that people can use to gain first-hand knowledge and understanding of what to do.

At the Charity, we hope tools such as our app will help empower people to move on from the impact of abuse because the need is definitely there. Last year we supported nearly 70 people who were trying to change what’s happening to them. Mainly that support was meant to ensure that they had somewhere safe to live by providing initial deposit and rent and that they had some essentials to furnish and equip their home and make it somewhere they and their families felt safe. We really want to reach out to more people who’re trying to survive but we know how hard it is for them when they’re often so isolated and unsupported.

So if you’re reading this blog and suspect someone might be suffering from any type of domestic violence or abuse who also might have a connection with the civil service, please let them know we’re here.

https://www.foryoubyyou.org.uk/helping-you/your-legal-information-app

https://www.foryoubyyou.org.uk/helping-you/relationships/domestic-abuse

Judith Smith is Director of Help and Advisory Services at the Charity for Civil Servants and is an enthusiastic ambassador for the Corporate Alliance

 

International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women throughout the world. Some may question the relevance of such a day, particularly in the West, but I challenge that view. International Women’s Day is as relevant today as it was when it was first observed over 100 years ago. Not only is it a celebration of women, but also as recognition that the power structures of our societies are imbalanced. The early 1900s was a time of expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world and rapid population growth. Today in our global society, turbulence and an imbalance of power remain, but how the imbalance manifests itself and its magnitude differs across cultures, societies, and communities.

I would add that these are not issues exclusive to women. But, today we can choose to stand with women across the world and take action to redress this imbalance and by doing so benefit others in society who are less empowered or marginalised.

No one should be denied their basic rights, whether on the basis of their gender or any other criteria. No one should be denied access to healthcare, education, justice, shelter, nor live in fear of violence, persecution or abuse, or otherwise be discriminated against.

The sad truth is that people are, and this is not a developing or emerging world issue, but it is happening across our communities. Take the issue of domestic violence and abuse, which affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men (during their adult lives) in the UK. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, class, age or culture. Nor is it exclusively women impacted, but men and children too. Notably, it also affects families and wider communities, as well as consuming public resources (such as healthcare, housing, policing), and impacting employers and national productivity. Whilst the UK Government’s commitment to tackling domestic violence is welcome much more needs to be done. And employers have a role to play; indeed the work of the Corporate Alliance demonstrates that employers do make a significant contribution. The UN’s theme this International Women’s Day focuses on Women at Work. The workplace is a place where we can all make a difference.

So, wherever you are, whatever you do, individual or organisation, let’s all be bold for change.

Sara Hamilton is an Ambassador for the Corporate Alliance, a solicitor and Operations Officer within the Legal and Compliance Division at Morgan Stanley.

Love is Not an Excuse this Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is usually a holiday associated with love, excessive amounts of chocolates and flowers and extravagant dinners or excursions from loved ones. However, not every person in a relationship gets excited for Valentine’s Day and the treats it holds. For some people in relationships, Valentine’s Day serves as a day where flowers and chocolate serve as more of an apology for previous (or future) actions in abusive relationships.

The messages associated with Valentine’s Day can be more on the possessive side, spreading messages like “Be Mine” or “You’re the only one” etc. While to people in non-abusive relationships, these might sound like wonderful compliments and an expression of someone’s undying love for them, not everyone has that experience.

These are signs of an abusive relationship according to YourTango (http://www.yourtango.com/experts/wendy-kay/avoid-abusive-relationship-15-signs-abuser-expert). If you’re significant other is doing any of these things, you need to reevaluate your relationship and even consider trying to leave the relationship, if possible:

  1. He or she pushes for quick involvement
  2. There’s constant jealousy
  3. He or she is controlling
  4. He or she has very unrealistic expectations
  5. There’s isolation
  6. He or she blames others for their mistakes
  7. He or she makes everyone else responsible for their feelings
  8. He or she is hyper sensitive
  9. He or she is cruel to animals and children
  10. He or she uses “playful” force during sex
  11. There’s verbal abuse
  12. There are rigid gender roles in the relationship
  13. He or she has sudden mood swings
  14. He or she has a past of battering
  15. He or she threatens violence

Although Valentine’s Day is usually associated with relationships, make sure that you’re in a healthy relationship this Valentine’s day. You should make sure that you love yourself before you love someone else.

Yelena Wermers is the intern at the Corporate Alliance. Yelena is currently studying abroad in London from the University of Pittsburgh where she studies Marketing and Supply Chain Management.