HUMAN RESOURCES / AUG. 03, 2014
version 6, draft 6

How to Help a Co-Worker That's Exposed to Abuse

Abuse is more common than we’d like to admit. The thing is, it’s more of a concern than you probably even know. An abuse victim is in serious danger every time he or she returns to an abusive environment. Perhaps someone at your work has been abused on more than one occasion; they may need your help.

Many abuse victims will not reach out to anyone because they fear for their lives. If you have a colleague at work that may be experiencing abuse, it’s important to provide assistance. The statistics are staggering and it’s time that we open up our eyes to the abuse that is currently occurring.

The Facts about Domestic Violence in the UK

  • In England and Wales, two women are killed each week by their current or ex partner. That equals one woman every three days.
  • 1 out of 4 women experience domestic violence within their lifetime.
  • Police in the UK receive a phone call every minute regarding domestic assistance, yet only 35% of incidents are reported.
  • On average, the victims of domestic abuse are 81% women and 19% men.
  • Before the first phone call is ever made, a woman is assaulted approximately 35 times.
  • In over half of the reported cases, children were also being abused.

Signs of Abuse

As mentioned, many victims will not speak out about their current situation. If you think that a colleague is being abused by their partner, look for the following signs:

  • Gets nervous when talking about their partner or becomes nervous whenever they’re around.
  • Sensitive about home life and talking about their personal environment.
  • A sudden drop is noticed in one’s productivity levels.
  • Misses work more often than normal.
  • You have noticed bruises. Sometimes victims try to cover their bruises, so look for this.
  • Injuries with unexplained explanations.
  • If you are fairly close, it is not uncommon for a victim to make excuses for why they cannot meet up.
  • Appears to be sad and withdrawn, becoming unusually quiet.
  • Increased levels of anxiety are often seen, especially when experiencing emotional abuse.
  • Has increased drug or alcohol use.
  • Expresses high levels of fear.

What You Can Do to Help

It can be very challenging to approach someone regarding such a sensitive subject. You may not know what to say or do. It’s crucial that you show them that you care. If you ignore the situation, terrible consequences may result.

  1.       Educate yourself on abuse, learning about how a victim may potentially feel. The more you know, the better you can help them.
  2.       Approach them about what you’re currently witnessing. You need to let them know that you’re concerned for them. They may begin to open up to you, feeling relieved that someone cares. If they do not say much, just assure them that you’re there for them. This gives them an option of hope and security.
  3.       Listen to them, allowing them to unload. They probably have a mixture of emotions; confusion, guilt, anger, sadness, and fear. This will build a level of trust so that you can help them more effectively.
  4.       If they agree to leave their current environment, encourage them not to tell their partner. Safety is a concern at this point. A lot of abuse is based on having control. Some of the most drastic and tragic instances occur when this control is threatened.
  5.       If he or she has children, you can offer assistance while they seek help. Looking after a child for a short period time is a small price to pay for their safety. If your safety will not be at risk, you can offer your home until something more permanent is arranged.
  6.       Encourage him or her to pack a bag and store it in a safe place. That way, they can easily up and go when the time is right.
  7.       Reach out to programs and resources within the UK. 

 Abuse is a reality and it is occurring every day. Although there’s help available, sometimes victims need a small push into the right direction. Check with your place of employment, see if there are any resources directly available through work. If not, there will be various options within your local community. 

If you notice any signs of abuse, simply start by showing your concern. Someone who will listen can mean the world to someone being abused. From there, you can create strategies for a happier, safer future. 

 

Photo credit: Flickr 

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