Why aren’t more employees not disclosing?

Workplace DFA support

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A question I get all the time is. ‘We have had a policy and yet, so few people are disclosing domestic family violence in our workplace, why?’

Firstly, this is not a good thing, a lack of disclosures is not an indicator that your employees are not being subjected to Domestic Family Abuse (DFA)

The answer to why employees are not coming forward is complex. There are many reasons, but I believe without addressing the following three issues it will not change and employees will continue to feel unsafe disclosing in the workplace.

  1. Employees are not aware of the policy or how to seek help internally. They may not know what support can be offered, so they don’t want the shame of disclosing without knowing the benefits.
  2. They are uncomfortable disclosing in their direct reporting line or team and unsure if they can seek help outside their team.
  3. They don’t feel safe and are concerned about privacy and how this will affect them and their careers. Financial stability is important for sufferers of DFA to find their way out. So, fear of affecting future earnings will make them resistant to reaching out.

So, is it any wonder when someone has worked hard to be respected in their workplace, that they would be resistant to disclosing and admitting they are not only struggling at home but are unsafe due to abuse?

They have worked hard to be respected in the workplace. So, disclosing and being pitied instead is a difficult decision.

Companies must make sure all employees know and understand the policy and the support available to them through their workplace.

Creating an environment of empathy and understanding where people feel they will be understood and supported is vital. This takes training to build the internal skills to deal with disclosures and the internal and external pathways to support them.

Disclosing to someone is one of the hardest things anyone will ever do. Disclosing at work is especially difficult.

Choosing someone to disclose to particually at work brings up so much fear:

  • Will it look bad for my career?
  • Will my boss lose respect for me?
  • Will they start to think I am incapable of doing my job?
  • Will they think I am stupid for putting up with this?
  • Will it be in my personnel file?
  • What if I am not believed, I will have impacted my career for no reason.
  • What if they don’t understand?
  • What if they call the police or social services, I could lose my children.
  • What if my partner finds out, I have talked about their abuse at work?
  • What if my colleagues find out? I will feel so exposed.
  • What if I lose my job?

If we start to look at disclosure from the perspective of the person going through the abuse, we can see disclosing is an overwhelmingly difficult thing to feel safe enough to do.

Let’s be clear, domestic family violence does not discriminate and there is no type.

A culture of sexism will prevent someone from disclosing. It is impossible to be confident in an environment where you are made to feel less than.

If they work in a group/team with an imbalance of power and control. When there is no way to feel safe disclosing to your boss, and the fear of going over their head would keep you from seeking support.

As I stated earlier until we create a culture of understanding and empathy, we will continue to suppress people from reaching out for help and encouraging a culture of power and control.

It is a tough question:

‘Do your employees feel safe in your workplace?’

Are their teams that are known to be toxic?

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