What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is defined as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer*.
With domestic abuse charities reporting a surge in activity during the coronavirus lockdown, we must all be aware of the many ways in which we can help potential victims.
Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in April*. This shocking statistic prompted the Home Office to provide an additional £2m for domestic abuse helplines and online support. Meanwhile, a Home Office campaign, promoted under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone, is encouraging the public to show solidarity for victims.
How can I support those around me?
You can also offer support to those around you and there are many ways you can help your colleagues, friends and most importantly yourself. A supportive culture should be created to encourage people to reveal if they have been subjected to some form of domestic abuse, help them recognise that this is not acceptable and enable them to seek help and support.
Lockdown has caused high levels of anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. People may find they need emotional support more than ever but are not aware of how they can access this.
What signs should I look out for?
Spotting signs and symptoms of domestic abuse with a colleague at work is something to be mindful of, here are four signifiers of potential domestic abuse:
- frequent absence, lateness or needing to leave work early
- reduced quality and quantity of work or missing deadlines
- changes in the way an employee communicates – a large number of personal calls or texts, or a strong reaction to personal calls
- physical signs and symptoms such as unexplained or frequent bruises or other injuries
For the year ending March 2019, an estimated 1.6 million women aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in that year*. Everyone has arguments, and everyone disagrees with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time. We all do things at times that we regret which cause unhappiness to those we care about but if this begins to form a consistent pattern, then it is an indication of domestic violence and abuse.
Where can I seek support
If you are worried that somebody is suffering from domestic abuse, or you feel that you may be the victim of this seek help.
To find out what services are near you, get advice or information, complete a simple assessment on your relationship or explore the many ways you can be supported, you can download the Bright Sky app.
Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app for anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse. The app is confidential, not requiring your name or details, and provides the user with advice, guidance and access to support services.
If your employer offers the Vivup Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as a staff benefit contact the helpline. The 24-hour telephone helpline is responsive, confidential, and totally independent, acting as an invaluable support for employees in crisis who need advice and short-term low intensity support. The counsellors assigned to your organisation can also facilitate structured telephone counselling, should you or a colleague prefer this method of support
In an emergency, always call the police on 999