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The importance of recognising domestic abuse at work

A screenshot from our Domestic Abuse Awareness Training course

Did you know that in the UK, more than one in ten crimes reported to the police are related to domestic abuse?

Such a shocking statistic highlights how crucial it is that friends, colleagues and managers are able to spot the signs of abuse and take steps to support victims and survivors. 

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

Depending on the nature of your work, you might be responsible for recognising signs of domestic abuse in both adults and children. It’s important that all members of staff clearly understand what to look out for.

Warning signs that could suggest a colleague is suffering from domestic abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Making excuses for regular injuries
  • Personality changes
  • Overly frequent communication with their partner
  • Worrying about pleasing their partner
  • Skipping work and work-related activities
  • Unusual clothing choices e.g. long sleeves in the summer
  • Feelings of anxiety or apprehension
  • Tiredness through difficulty in sleeping
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Engaging in harmful behaviours

In children, the signs that someone is suffering from domestic abuse can be slightly different and include:

  • Exhibiting inappropriate adult knowledge or behaviours
  • Anxiousness
  • Withdrawn behaviour
  • Extreme changes in behaviour
  • Having a reduced number of friends and poor social skills
  • Poor relationships with parents or guardians
  • Frequent injuries
  • Bad hygiene
  • Running away from home or school

Demonstrating any of these signs doesn’t automatically mean someone is suffering from domestic abuse. However, it is important to be aware of the signs so you are able to better recognise potential abuse.

What to do if you suspect domestic abuse?

With the rise of hybrid and remote work, an employer's role in stopping abuse has never been more important. They need to think about how they can keep in touch with all employees and fulfil their duty of care.

That’s why many organisations choose to have a robust Domestic Abuse Policy in place. The policy should:

  • Raise awareness
  • Identify responsibilities
  • Establish a process to make sure employees get the help they need
  • Create a culture where employees feel comfortable talking about domestic abuse

Every organisation is different, and how domestic abuse is dealt with should take into account the size and structure of a business, together with how to support colleagues who work remotely.

Supporting survivors of domestic abuse

It's important for any person to know how to talk with someone about domestic abuse, but particularly for managers who may have to raise performance issues.

Managers don’t need to be experts on domestic abuse; they just need to be good listeners and offer solutions to work-related problems in a supportive, sensitive, and non-judgemental way, as well as helping employees to identify appropriate sources of support.

How a manager talks to an employee about domestic abuse can make all the difference in whether the employee feels safe enough to open up and seek further help.

Even though a manager doesn't have to be an expert, they should be equipped with the knowledge needed to approach things in the right way.

They need to listen to those who confide in them, encourage them to seek help, and work with them to make sure they write down any incidents of abuse at work, including remote instances and those that happen electronically.

Domestic Abuse Awareness Training

Looking to educate your workforce to recognise the signs of domestic abuse? We’ve recently released a simple and cost-effective solution in our Domestic Abuse Awareness Training course.

The CPD accredited course can be completed in just 35 minutes and helps users understand:

  • What behaviours are considered domestic abuse
  • How to properly respond to disclosures of domestic abuse
  • The legislation that protects survivors of domestic abuse

Interested in learning more? Claim your free, no-obligation trial to the course today or request a bespoke quote today.