Today I was asked if I thought things had really improved for those living with domestic violence. Are people reaching out to them or are we still turning our heads and pretending we don’t see it?
I would have loved to say an unequivocally that things had improved, but at the moment I am unsure.
I live in a world consumed by domestic violence I have lived it, I have survived it and it is now the focus of my business. So, as the only breadwinner in my household, it is still important for my financial stability.
Living in this world it is easy to see things through a positive lens because most of the people in my world dedicate much of their time in trying to bring about positive change. Both on a large scale and in the lives of individuals impacted.
Today I gave a Keynote talk to an audience which included many from the business world. Not so long ago businesses would not have seen the relevance of them getting involved in this issue.
When I think of my days in corporate when it was a ‘shameful’ secret I tried to keep from my boss, colleagues, and even my friends.
Once I left my partner I was amazed how many people said to me they had wondered, saying among other things:
- You always seemed scared when he was around.
- Your explanations of what happened never matched your injuries.
- It always seemed like you were role-playing when you were with your partner.
Back then nobody would have dreamt of saying anything. After all, it was none of there concern, it would be rude to intrude. Things have changed in that we are starting to recognise that domestic violence is an issue which affects everyone.
Many workplaces now have policies in place, but do your employees know:
- The signs of domestic violence
- The dynamics of abuse
- And, importantly how to communicate to a colleague dealing with domestic violence
Because without the confidence to approach and communicate with empathy and understanding, we have not moved very far forward at all. We are still in the space of watching and wondering without reaching out to the person we are concerned about.
Do your employees feel comfortable discussing this issue?
I can see now looking back at my abusive childhood. There were so many people in my life who had a very good idea what was happening behind closed doors, but nobody said anything. It was not the done thing. What if they were wrong?
So, they did their best to help but no one took any real action. Certainly never reached out to me to see what I needed. It was considered a family matter so the school and community did nothing. I am glad for children growing up in abusive households that this is no longer the case.
Communicating about domestic violence is not easy. If the people in your organisation are not trained to speak openly and have the confidence to broach the issue with a colleague they suspect is being abused – have we really moved forward at all.
We are at a crossroads and we need real sustainable change within organisations. So we can change attitudes and cultures.