For many people, and for all sorts of reasons, the coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult time. Anxieties about the disease itself, financial worries, and personal loss have all taken their toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing. But for those lone workers at home who are in abusive relationships, it has been particularly hard. With no respite from abusive partners, many have been unable to get the support they need. In this blog, we’re looking at the scale of the domestic abuse problem for lone workers at home, and how employers can help.
The scale and nature of the domestic abuse problem
The UK’s domestic abuse commissioner highlighted the problem of domestic abuse during lockdown in media interviews last week. There was reportedly a 77 per cent year-on-year rise in the use of domestic abuse helplines during June 2020. Domestic abuse charities have seen a dramatic surge in demand for services since lockdown was eased. And as well as domestic abuse of partners, there is also a concomitant rise of child protection issues.
Many of the victims of domestic abuse are women. However, the legal definition covers abuse by intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality. It’s also worth stressing that domestic abuse takes many forms. It often does take the form of physical violence; on average, 100 women and 30 men are murdered by abusive partners each year. But it encompasses any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. Many instances will involve controlling behaviours which constitute psychological, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse. This means it also affects people regardless of their age, class or background. Indeed, government statistics show a staggering 5.7% of UK adults experienced domestic abuse in the year to March 2019.
Learning to spot the signs for remote workers
Unfortunately, the signs can sometimes be tricky to identify, and toxic patterns of behaviour can be swept under the carpet for too long. Not least, victims of domestic abuse may not recognise that their partner’s behaviour is in fact abusive. On the one hand, that’s because the stereotype of domestic abuse is still of physical violence against women. On the other hand, the controlling behaviour can be insidious, making the victim doubt themselves and ‘internalising’ the problem so that they blame themselves for the abuse.
From the outside, in particular, patterns of domestic abuse can be difficult to see. For lone workers at home who are suffering domestic abuse, colleagues may struggle to spot the signs. These may include a change in physical presentation, unexplained injuries, or a change in socialising patterns. But most importantly, and however it manifests, abuse is never the fault of the victim. It is also illegal - and that doesn't apply only to physical violence. Coercive and controlling behaviour was made a criminal offence in 2015.
Safe Hub helps lone workers at home facing a crisis
Lone workers at home may get little respite from dangerous or coercive situations. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of lone workers. We would argue that this should extend to taking steps to protect workers who are suffering domestic abuse. As with many aspects of lone worker wellbeing, taking an active stance and ensuring people have information and support marks out good employers.
To support the welfare and wellbeing of lone workers at home, Safe Hub provides an ideal tool. Whatever their personal situation at home, Safe Hub delivers rapid response to lone working employees facing a crisis or feeling under threat. Whether it’s a Red Alert emergency call or a proactive confirmation of welfare via Safe Check, Safe Hub looks after the best interests of lone workers at home. And given calls to our Alarm Receiving Centre are recorded, they can be used in evidence in any legal proceedings. Let’s all work together to tackle domestic abuse.
For information about getting help and support for domestic abuse, you can refer to the NHS website. As domestic abusers can check up on internet searches, Women's Aid has some useful advice on abuse victims covering tracks online. And many UK pharmacies have safe spaces where you can get information about support and make calls.
#DomesticAbuse #HomeLoneWorkers #WorkerWelfare #FullySupported #LoneWorkerSafety Contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today to find out more about how employers can support lone workers at home who may be facing domestic abuse.
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub. Lone Worker Solutions is now a Totalmobile company, strengthening the group’s market-leading Field Service Management offering.