Domestic violence is becoming a mainstream conversation and with that the veil of secrecy is dropping. An environment is being created where more people will reach out for help. Which I know from experience is as difficult as it is important.
Disclosure in the workplace was hard and felt humiliating
When I disclosed in the workplace, I was unsure if what I had been through was even abuse, I was scared to not speak out but I was equally scared to keep quiet. My life was spiralling out of control I was trapped in the cycle of abuse.
I will always be grateful
I will be grateful for my boss’s support for the rest of my life. Her validation and care changed something inside of me. It may have taken years for me to finally leave but I do not under estimate the importance of the reaction to my first disclosure.
Being believed and supported made a big difference
I felt heard and valued and I was more than my problems. It was difficult to disclose at work as it was the one area in my life where I felt I was achieving. I never meant to disclose, it came out unintentionally. I feared my career was over that I would be seen as weak and pathetic, how would I ever be respected again?
We didn’t understand the complexities of abuse
My boss believed me and did everything she could to help me, even helping me buy a bed. But neither of us had any idea about the complexities of abuse. So, after helping me leave there was no understanding for either of us on why I would quickly return. The dynamics created in the abusive relationship with my partner were not something I or my boss understood.
Being in an abusive relationship meant I was quick to blame myself and feel like I had let people down. So, it naturally followed that I felt that by returning to my partner I had let my boss down. This caused me to avoid her which made it difficult at work. She in turn felt like she had overstepped my boundaries.
I would have avoided poverty
I have often wondered how different my life would have been if our company had domestic violence policies and importantly training on the dynamics and complexities of abuse and how to effectively communicate with someone going through domestic violence.
It is too late for me
It is too late for hindsight for me but I am encouraged by the amount of companies who have introduced domestic violence policies.
Now, my crusade is to ensure companies have the appropriate training, because how you react to a person being abused when they first disclose is critical.
3 things to do when someone discloses are:
1. Thank them for trusting you – this validates them and lets them know you value them.
2. Ask them why they choose you.
3. Ask them what they need from you.
Remember boundaries are important. Crossing boundaries can compound the situation and put you in a difficult position.
We are at the beginning when it comes to combatting domestic violence, but I believe we can make a huge positive impact on the frightening statistics and companies are at the forefront of that.