Help prevent violence against women this White Ribbon Day

2.1 million Australian women and 1.2 million men have experienced emotional abuse by a partner according to recent data1. This startling statistic that one in every four women has experienced domestic abuse is truly shocking and when we consider this figure is likely under-reported due to the perceptions of stigma, shame, economic dependence and safety, it is even more concerning.

White Ribbon Day on November 25th is a national male led campaign to help end men’s violence against women.

Domestic violence is not going away. One in four is not just a statistic; we all walk past that one woman every day. She could be sitting at the desk next to you or someone you are very close to. Domestic Violence is a complex issue and requires sensitivity and understanding of the victim’s experience. Modern workplaces need to consider what options and programs can be put in place to support employees in this situation as often the workplace is their only solace. Supporting White Ribbon Day in your organisation is a great way to start raising awareness.

The face behind the statistic

Rachael works in sales. She comes to work in a freshly pressed collared shirt and always smiles brightly when she walks through the glass doors in the morning. Her team mates mentioned that she is often the first person to offer to do the coffee run at morning tea.  Rachael usually makes twelve cupcakes every year when her department celebrates RSPCA’s Cupcake Day and happily wears her dark denim jeans on Jeans for Genes Day.  She meets and exceeds all her sales targets so if management was asked to rate her performance, we would find that Rachael is a solid performer and a valuable member of the department.

At home, Rachael keeps her house clean and well stocked with food.  She does her grocery shopping after work on Thursdays.  Last time she ran out of butter, she was slapped across the face.  Hard.  The blotchy red hand mark faded while she slept that night.  The knot in the pit of her stomach did not.  For Rachael, a slap is sometimes the better option because sometimes her husband’s words feel so pointed and vile that she feels her sense of self being torn away.  Just little pieces of tissue, leaving her edges frayed and exposed.  But Rachael does not know what else there is for her right now.  Her sister has stopped taking her in when she leaves so now she stays in her house. With her husband. And she welcomes the chance to go to work each morning.

Here are some simple steps any workplace can introduce to help support employees that may be experiencing domestic violence;

  1. Advertise local support services.  Put posters up in the tea room or have a list of referral options available on the companies’ intranet. 
  2. Let staff know that they can access their EAP for confidential counselling services.
  3. Support White Ribbon Day within your organisation.
  4. Consider becoming an accredited workplace with White Ribbon Australia.
  5. Work with staff to promote positive conflict management techniques and open communication.
  6. Empower staff to develop their verbal communication skills as part of ongoing professional development.
  7.  Realise that even small initiatives and changes can make very real improvements to an individual’s life.

It may be that someone in your workplace may be experiencing domestic violence and there are ways to help them. One way is to create awareness and be responsive to the needs of those affected through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Contact AccessEAP for a confidential discussion about your organisation’s needs and how we can assist.

For individuals who feel at risk contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 000.

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