Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases, by a partner or ex-partner.
Domestic Abuse can that can include, but is not limited to: –
• Psychological Abuse -Intimidation, threats, belittling, Gaslighting (persistently undermining or manipulating someone, so they doubt their own sanity)
• Physical Abuse -Any type of violence against someone such as pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking or using weapons
• Sexual Abuse – Any unwanted touching or groping, including pressuring or forcing someone to have sex when they don’t want to (Rape)
• Verbal Abuse – Belittling, insulting, or demeaning someone with words – alone or in front of others.
• Financial Abuse- Taking control of someone’s finances to deny them money and limit their independence.
• Emotional Abuse- Being made to feel guilty, emotional blackmail (threats to kill oneself or lots of emotional outbursts)
• Online Abuse -Insulting or threatening someone via social media, messaging, or email.
• Controlling behaviour- Attempting to restrict who someone sees or talks to. Preventing them socialising with friends or family.
Anyone can experience domestic abuse regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status (Class), sexuality or background – this is true for both the abuser and the abused.
Some people who experience other forms of discrimination and oppression, may face additional barriers to disclosing abuse and finding help.
Different kinds of abuse can happen in different contexts. The most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in couple relationships, but the definition of domestic abuse also covers abuse between family members, such as teenager to parent or carer.
How many people does it effect?
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in the UK have endured domestic abuse in their lifetime. Two women each week and one man each month are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner, with at an estimated 2.4 million people experiencing domestic abuse last year in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the highest ever number of domestic violence crimes was recorded by police with 16,575 domestic abuse crimes recorded with Scotland recording recorded 60,641 incidents of domestic abuse, both between 2018 – 2019.
In short, Domestic Abuse has a massive impact on society, a devastating impact on individuals and their loved ones and is shockingly common.
How has Covid-19 and people needing to work from home, impacted domestic abuse?
There is never an excuse to perpetrate violence and abuse, however it is important to recognise factors that may put people more at risk.
Rates of domestic abuse have skyrocketed, due to the need for self-isolation and social distancing, with The National Domestic Abuse helpline reporting a 25% increase in calls since the coronavirus lockdown began and a 150% increase in visits to the website.
This may be due to people having increased money worries, stress, tensions raised because of staying indoors for long periods of time and those experiencing abuse feeling that they have fewer opportunities to seek help.
Workers experiencing domestic abuse may previously have seen their places of work as a safe place, away from abuse and one where they may already have received support from colleagues.
Social distancing for those experiencing domestic abuse, may result in a higher risk of being deliberately cut off from family, friends and work by an abusive partner and crucially signs of abuse, such as changes in behaviour and physical injures, are less likely to be recognised by others.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, firstly, please know that you are not alone, as a GMB member of staff, you will be believed and supported.
Below are a number of specialist support services that can be discreetly used including free apps and helplines where you can speak confidentially. Many of these include online chat options if you are worried about being heard and can be hidden easily.
Please consider speaking to your manager or HR in confidence, so that we can support you. Even if you don’t feel ready to do anything else or are not sure what they could do, let someone know if you are able to.
Even in these challenging times, If you are in immediate danger – please call 999.
People experiencing domestic abuse are allowed to leave their home to
seek help during lockdown.
The helplines and websites below can offer different types of support and advice including putting you in touch with local services who can help you make a plan to get safe.
The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline
Phone number: Freephone: 0808 2000 247
Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse
Phone Number: 24-hour helpline: 0808 802 1414
Scotland National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriages
Phone Number: 24-hour helpline: 0800 027 1234
Website: www. sdafmh.org.uk/ (including online chat function)
Cymorth I Ferched Cymru / Welsh Women’s Aid
Live fear free
Provide confidential support and information on domestic abuse, sexual violence and violence against women in wales
Phone Number: 0808 80 10 800
Advice and support for men experiencing domestic abuse.
Phone Number: (weekdays 10am4pm) 01823 334244
Galop -Specialist support for the LGBT+ community
Phone number Free helpline: 0800 999 5428
Other useful links
The Bright Sky mobile app: free to download, provides support and information to employers and anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
Ending Domestic Abuse
Provide a confidential helpline, email and webchat service for perpetrators of domestic violence looking for help to stop. They help male and female perpetrators, in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Partners or ex-partners of perpetrators, as well as concerned friends and family members and Frontline Workers are also welcome to contact us for information, advice and support.
Phone Number 0808 802 4040O Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
If you are managing someone who is experiencing Domestic Abuse
Believe and listen
If you are managing someone who discloses to you that they are experiencing domestic abuse, the first step in supporting them is to believe them, listen to them and to recognise that they may not be ready to take any other actions at this point.
Signpost and support
Please signpost staff to the relevant helpline numbers, app and websites above and offer assistance wherever wanted. It is important that managers are able to provide a non-judgemental and supportive environment, with consideration on what adjustments could be made around work or other supportive measures. Respecting the employee’s boundaries and privacy is essential.
If you or your staff members are in immediate danger – please call 999.
Domestic abuse doesn’t always look like the representations we are used to in the media, it is important not to assume that all domestic abuse is physical or that only women can experience domestic abuse, for example. Domestic Abuse is a pattern of controlling and intimidating behaviour that can be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. It can happen in same-sex and heterosexual relationships, all genders, ages, ethnicities and disabilities.
It is important to recognise that even in situations where the occurrences of domestic abuse happened many years ago, the recent drastic changes to civil life and working from home, still may have a very real impact on a person’s health, wellbeing and work now. The above helplines can still support and signpost those who have experienced domestic abuse previously and the person may still feel they would benefit from counselling or other specialist services and your support.
Get support and information
Other useful include resources:
GMB Work to stop Domestic Abuse policy Contains further information on important manager responses and practical actions and measures to support workers.
TUC guide to Domestic abuse and coronavirus – aimed at reps but contains helpful pointers on what to do if you think some one is experiencing domestic abuse.
For more information on supporting staff with experiencing domestic abuse or to speak please contact HR.
Posted: 27th July 2020