Christmas, along with pregnancy, ending a relationship and large sporting events, such as the World Cup Football, are one of the factors causing a rise in domestic abuse incidents.
As we are nearing the festive season, it is important for employers to be aware this is often a high-risk time for those in toxic relationships. There are many pressures placed on families at this time of year i.e. financial pressures, spending more time together, consuming more alcohol, a need for everything to be perfect. Unfortunately, Christmas can end up being a nightmare for families living with a perpetrator of abuse. Christmas, financial pressure, spending time together is not the cause of domestic violence – the need for power and control is, Christmas and consuming alcohol provides the excuse. There is often an increase in reporting of domestic abuse crimes after the holiday period.
The common theme throughout these events is the need for perpetrators to gain and keep power and control. All too often lately we are seeing the horrific headlines in the paper and on the news of women being killed by their former partners. Some they have met in the workplace as in the case of Shania Grice or killed in the workplace as with Hollie Gazzard. Recently on the news we have had the one-year anniversary of Alice Ruggles death, whose former boyfriend was a soldier. Shania, Hollie and Alice were all beautiful young girls, full of life with a promising future ahead of them, please spare a thought for their families this Christmas.
Domestic, sexual abuse and/or stalking has no social boundaries, it can affect anyone of any gender, within any relationship, age, background, religion or culture. Perpetrators can be found throughout society, working in all sorts of roles and often presenting as charming, charismatic personalities. As employers and employees, consider what you can do to improve your workplace and put the appropriate measures in place to reduce the risk of harm that abuse can cause and to ensure your staff are safe.
We need to be open and non-judgemental, to treat equally those who have suffered in receiving the support they need. It is necessary to extend acceptance and understanding to survivors of abuse. The workplace is in a strong position to send out the message that violence and abuse is not acceptable and contribute towards breaking down the barriers of this social stigma.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. When these statistics are compared to how many staff you employ, as an employer you can begin to understand the prevalence of the problem, particularly when domestic abuse victims will suffer 35 incidents before reporting. Many of these incidents will have prevented an employee from attending work on time or will have led to increased absences and possibly time off to attend medical appointments. As an employer you can begin to understand how domestic abuse can impact on the employee, their colleagues and the business. A recent report published by The ONS’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in July 2017 shows the shocking extent of domestic abuse being perpetrated within the UK.
If we are to gain greater awareness of this issue, which in my opinion is a societal problem, we need to understand why it happens, the root causes and why the incidents rise during certain times of the year and during trigger points within a relationship. Through awareness, education and training, employers can better support their employees by ensuring the workplace is a safe, non-judgemental environment and encourage employees who may be at risk to seek help sooner.