Workplaces can take a proactive approach to assisting employees subjected to domestic violence with their safety plan.
So what is a safety plan and why is it so important?
It is important because leaving an abusive relationship and the months that follow are the most dangerous time for someone living through domestic violence. For those in an abusive relationship it is hard to cognitively deal with all that is happening. So planning for when they leave is difficult. By the time they are ready to leave they are broken down, physically, mentally and emotionally. Often too exhausted even to have the energy to contemplate the future. Just getting through the day is challenge enough.
If leaving in a hurry it is hard to think about what is important. Some even have to leave in a hurry in the middle of the night in their pyjamas.
Setting up a safety plan in advance can make a big difference. It means before there is a state of urgency a plan can be thought through.
Here are some things to be considered for a safety plan:
- Where will they go?
- How will they get there?
- Who can they trust?
- Have a safe word that only those whom are trusted know
- Can they take the car, if yes is it save to hide a spare set of keys somewhere
- Copies of important documents
- A spare phone which is not traceable by their partner
There are things the workplace can do to assist:
- HR can help put a safety plan together from a caring but detached perspective. Being to emotionally involved can be a negative when assisting with a safety plan.
- Keep certified copies of important documents such as passport, birth certificates, driving licenses etc
- Have an alternate emergency contact on file. In case the employee goes missing or is in danger.
- Have a note of a bank account unknown to the partner so wages all or part of can be redirected there.
There are many other things to consider, but the most important is safety. Is it safe to have bags packed? Or copies of documents hidden in the home etc.
The Human Rights Commission has a comprehensive workplace guide which can be accessed here:
Safety has to come first, so be sure the measures in place are the right ones. A good safety plan can make a big difference.