COVID-19 and domestic abuse: Advice for Managers

As a manager you can have an important role to play in response to domestic abuse and can be alert to the increased risks during the lockdown. Nationally there has been a surge in domestic abuse cases. For people in abusive or violent relationships, lockdown means being trapped indoors with their abuser. 

Be alert to the signs  

If your employee is experiencing domestic violence and abuse, there may be signs you can watch out for. Do they appear to be under pressure when on calls and conference calls, are they trying to end them quickly? Is their work usually of a high standard but they are suddenly struggling? Bear in mind the others factors that might be affecting them, e.g. their children being at home. These indicators may point towards a problem with domestic abuse, but they could also be the result of a different issue. You should not ask someone questions about their situation or risk unless you are certain it is safe to do so, as this could put them at increased risk. Consider your approach to one-to-one meetings; if your employee is working at home the abusers may be present so think about using email support, which can be more private. 

Show your support for victims 

Ensure that you have support numbers for all types of services available and that they are shared with everyone via email or the intranet – sometimes just seeing a helpline number can be the trigger to get help. Use your company blog or intranet to feature information about domestic abuse, for example the news from home secretary, Priti Patel, that anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge. Join in with the Home Office campaign #YouAreNotAlone on social media and show you solidary for victims. 

Disclosures of domestic abuse 

If you already have a disclosure about domestic abuse from your employee there are steps you can take to help them. 

1. Ask questions such as, ‘Do you need any help?’ which would be about them not their work.  

2. Think about what support you can give them. Ask them if they are able to have a call in private to discuss work and if this is possible, seize the opportunity. If you are able to call or privately email them (a lot of victims use their work emails when in support, as it is a safe way to contact them) agree a code word if help is needed. 

3. Talk to them about how they can create a support network, who do they have in their family or friendship group who they can talk to #YouAreNotAlone. 

There are lots of ways you as an employer can support those experiencing domestic violence and abuse. If you’d like to find out more about how Behind Closed Doors can help you to understand domestic abuse and how to you can support your employees, please contact us on info@behind-closed-doors.org.uk or call 0113 222 4562.  

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