10 Jan 2020

Domestic abuse campaign launched

Domestic abuse is nothing to do with employers or the workplace, right? — Wrong.

Some three-quarters of people who endure domestic violence are also targeted at work, and an abusive home environment can have a serious knock-on effect on health, work and performance.

While it can be a difficult and sensitive area for employers, a new campaign aims to shine a light on this 'hidden workplace issue' and encourage companies to take a more supportive role.

Teresa Brimble-Brennan, domestic abuse project officer for the Isle of Wight Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which is leading the 16 Days of Action campaign locally, explained: “The stats relating to domestic abuse are truly shocking.

“One in four women and one in six men suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime and domestic abuse costs businesses £1.9 billion every year due to decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages and sick pay.

“People affected by domestic abuse at home often see work as a safe space. We want it to be more than that. We want our workplaces to be both safe and supportive.

“Having policies and procedures in place, training for line managers and HR staff and raising awareness of the issue in the workplace will make it clear what to do if someone is a victim of abuse either at home or at work.

“As it stands, domestic violence is a hidden issue in the workplace and companies can do more to support their employees who experience it.”

Businesses can support the campaign by signing the company pledge — a commitment to keep staff safe from abuse at work and create a working environment that makes it easy for people to take the first step and to talk about their experience.

In return, the CSP will provide a free employers’ pack designed to help companies spot the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse, which include:

• 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; and
• physical signs and symptoms such as unexplained or frequent bruises or other injuries.

The pack includes posters to display in the workplace, free training opportunities on the Island and domestic abuse policy templates for companies to use and adapt.

The Isle of Wight Council was one of the first organisations to sign the pledge at the Isle of Wight Domestic Violence Forum Conference at which the campaign was launched.

The conference featured several key speakers including Dr Jane Monckton Smith, a forensic criminologist specialising in homicide, stalking and coercive control.

Teresa added: “Businesses often do not understand how domestic violence could impact their workplace, which is understandable.

"Currently, most understand that domestic violence takes place only within the home. However, we now know that 75 per cent 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 abuse changed home, switched their children’s school, but it is most likely they retained their same job.

“Employers have a crucial role to play in helping staff who are victims of domestic abuse. That is why this pack is so valuable, as it provides employers with simple steps they can take to raise awareness and support their colleagues.”

To sign the company pledge and receive a free employers’ pack, email: Teresa.brimblebrennan@iow.gov.uk  or call 823150 (ext: 6696).

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The council has signed the company pledge
The council has signed the company pledge
  • Businesses can support the campaign by signing the company pledge.
  • One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.
Isle of Wight, UK