Life in Lockdown: The Distressing Rise in Domestic Abuse and How Employers Can Help

Coronavirus

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and here at Thrive we’re sharing our “Life in Lockdown” series. We’re looking at how everyone’s mental health is being impacted by the current circumstances, but also how the world keeps on turning, and that means that certain aspects of life which impact people negatively, such as grief, cancer treatments, and domestic violence, are still going ahead, even amongst this crisis. In this series, we’re trying to consider particularly how mental health is impacted in these scenarios, whilst the world spins madly on.

 

Other blogs in this series are:

Life in Lockdown: NHS Staff and Possible PTSD After COVID-19

Life in Lockdown: The Impact of Grief and Employees’ Rights

An unfortunate result of the lockdown has been a sustained increase in the incidents of domestic violence, which employers should always try and be mindful of. As the lockdown has meant a significant portion of employees are now working from home and not in the office, employers be even more aware of domestic violence effecting their employees. This is because often employees find an escape from the abuse through their work; due to the lockdown, the sad fact is that many women have lost that escape route.

The government has acknowledge that the current lockdown can cause anxiety for those experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. Therefore, as an employer you can play an important role in making sure employees are aware of the help and support which is available.

It is important to remember that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality or background. The definition of domestic abuse covers abuse in relationships and between family members, and abuse is not always physical but also psychological, sexual and financial.

What can you do as an employer?

It’s especially difficult at the moment given that employees cannot be seen face to face, but employers should be conscious of any changes in behaviour or demeanour that might indicate issues at home.

As an employer you can encourage staff to look out for one another and offer reassurance to all employees that if they are facing domestic abuse you are willing to support them.

There are guidance on the Government’s website, which includes a list of organisations that can provide help and advice on domestic abuse, which you could send to all employees to make them aware that this is available to them, you can find the link for the guidance here.

If an employee comes to you about domestic violence, you can offer support in various ways including:

  • Listening to them without judgement. Do not blame them or excuse the perpetrator’s behaviour;
  • Acknowledge the fact it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse and that they have done the correct thing;
  • Give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to;
  • Let them know nobody deserves to be abused, despite what the abuser has said;
  • Support them as an employer through asking them what they need and be guided by them. It is important to be patient and allow them to set the pace;
  • If possible, offer to keep in touch by phone or online, but make sure to ask them what the safest way to do this is.

The Government has also developed a campaign which is available for employers to share with their staff to raise the awareness of where further advice and support is available. You can download the free resources, such as posters and leaflets here.

Additionally, the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse website has a range of resources to support employers with domestic abuse within the workplace, you can find the link here.

Finally, the Business in the Community have a toolkit with information to help employers deliver their duty of care in relation to domestic abuse which you can find the link to here.

Something else to bear in mind is that an employer should be flexible with an employee, in the event that they do feel compelled to leave the home due to abuse. An employer should try to be as supportive as possible, and perhaps offer the use of annual leave, unpaid leave, time off in lieu or flexible working whilst the employee settles into any surroundings.

Further Resources and Specialists

There are also other specialists in this area for support. These include:

 

 

By the Thrive Tribe

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