Workplace Domestic Family Abuse Training. Is it Safe?

DFA Workplace

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When my children were young I was a Personal Trainer and Health Coach. It enabled me to work around my responsibilities as a mother and combine my love of training and Marathon running.

When someone is living with abuse they have been so conditioned to the abuse they do not even recognise it as abuse. It takes time and patience with someone to help them through the process of understanding. Knowing how to communicate with compassion and empathy is essential.

A lack of knowledge and understanding could lead the person living with abuse to shut down. This can mean they endure the abuse they are living with for longer in isolation. Which will have devastating impacts on their mental wellbeing

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

Choosing someone to disclose to particularly 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?
  • This list could go on.

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.

When I was a personal trainer, January was an interesting month in the Gym. I’d see people with a trainer who were either new to training or didn’t understand the negative connotations of what they were getting their clients to do.

Some of what I’d see would scare me. To the untrained eye, this training looks effective, but because of my years in the business and my experience, I could see how unsafe it is.

The way some of the trainers train their clients to perform these exercises is incorrect and at worst dangerous. They do not fully understand the intricacies of exercise the form required and its impact on other parts of the body.

I feel for the clients because they have no idea, they are trusting the information they are given is safe but will improve their health and life.

Worse still is watching people who think they understand how to train themselves. Lifting weight that is too heavy and in the wrong form. They’re doing their best to achieve their results but risk serious injury by using the wrong information.

The work I do has changed, but the issue of unsafe training hasn’t. I hear people talking about Workplace Domestic Abuse Training and I know it is not safe. I have at times called people out on this. This has harmed my business as building relationships is important for businesses and my wellbeing. But ensuring safe practices, and keeping those in abusive relationships safe has to come first.

This is too important though, Standing strong on this has cost me collaborations and in the short term hindered my business growth. But, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of getting this wrong. Ask these questions?

  1. Do you or the company you are hiring know enough about the complexities of DFA to know if your training is safe?
  2. Do you worry more about the stats than how to communicate?
  3. Does the training you are implementing/teaching evoke empathy or sympathy?
  4. Will those who disclose after the training is implemented feel safe and supported?
  5. Are you creating an environment where people will feel safe to disclose?

We do need to move from awareness to action, although it needs to be the right action! The consequence of being with a personal trainer who doesn’t truly understand what they are doing is an injury, the consequence of bad advice when it comes to Domestic Abuse Training could be much higher.

Is your workplace a safe space for employees to disclose?

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