Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Domestic violence or abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. It can happen against anyone, and anybody can be an abuser.
It is not just about a person hitting or threatening the victim. Domestic violence can include a whole range of things, including belittling, constant criticism, isolating someone from their friends and family, sexual abuse and financial control. It often continues after a relationship has ended.
If you feel you may be experiencing abuse, you are not alone. It may help to talk to someone safe, outside of the relationship or family, and there is lots of support out there. You can call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or chat to the support team online. You can also contact Yorkshire-based domestic violence charity IDAS for help, support and advice.
In case of emergency
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Then follow the instructions, depending on whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.
If you call from a mobile when prompted, press 55 to ‘Make Yourself Heard’ - this will transfer your call to the police. Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.
If you call 999 from a landline, information about your location should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response. Remember to try to make some noise for the operator - cough, tap your phone, sneeze etc.
How can I help someone who's experiencing domestic violence?
Recognise signs of violence or abuse
- Look for sudden changes in behaviour and/or changes in the quality of work performance for unexplained reasons despite a previously strong record.
- Look for changes in the way an employee dresses, for example, excessive clothing on hot days, changes in the amount of make-up worn. This is obviously not as easy to do with remote working but could be picked up in video meetings.
- Domestic abuse is often a hidden problem and individuals can find it very difficult to disclose. Ask open and empathetic questions such as: how are you doing at the moment? Are there any issues you would like to discuss with me? I have noticed recently that you are not yourself. Is anything the matter?
Responding to a disclosure of domestic violence
- Believe an employee if they disclose experiencing domestic abuse – do not ask for proof.
- Reassure the employee that the organisation understands how domestic abuse may affect their work performance and then explain any support that can be offered.
- Agree with the employee on what to tell colleagues and how they should respond if their ex/partner telephones or visits the physical workplace.
- Keep a record of any incidents of abuse in the workplace, including persistent telephone calls, emails or visits to the workplace.
- Make sure that line managers are checking in frequently with employees so that they can raise any concerns or worries and offer support. This is even more important for remote workers who are likely to feel more isolated and potentially vulnerable.
- Signpost employees to professional support.
As employees will no longer be seen every day by their colleagues, it is crucial that line managers stay in contact and have regular 1-2-1s and support and supervision sessions with their staff. However, it is important to remember any channels of communication may not be confidential and those at risk of abuse may be being monitored.
Help support staff wellbeing by sensitively asking how they feel about the changes to their working environment and whether there is any support that could be put in place to make this easier for them.
If staff have already told you they are vulnerable to domestic violence ask them to think about their own existing support systems, such as friends, family or neighbours and how these could be strengthened during this time. You may want to help them develop their own bespoke support and safety plan.
- Call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
- IDAS - the largest charity in Yorkshire supporting those experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence.
- Survive - support for survivors of rape and sexual abuse in North Yorkshire
- Mankind - support for male victims of domestic abuse
- Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
- SignHealth - has dedicated information about domestic abuse for Deaf people, including information provided in BSL.
- Galop is a national LGBT+ anti-violence charity that has a domestic abuse helpline.
- National FGM support clinics - NHS National FGM Support Clinics (NFGMSC) are community-based clinics that offer a range of support services for women with female genital mutilation (FGM).
- Halo Project - Help and advice for survivors and those at risk of honour-based abuse.
- Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages about identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.
- Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app, launched in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.