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Monday, 25 October 2021

Business Minister: employers have a duty to spot early signs of domestic abuse


Letter lists key steps to build awareness of domestic abuse

Business Minister Paul Scully has today (14 January) issued a rallying call to employers across the country to take some simple steps to ensure their organisation is spotting signs of domestic abuse and helping their staff find the right support.

In an open letter to all UK employers, the Business Minister outlined a few key, practical steps they can take to build awareness of domestic abuse, ensure they are noticing warning signs, and help workers access the support they need.

Warning signs for domestic abuse include changes in a person’s behaviour, a sudden drop in performance, mentions of controlling or coercive behaviour in partners, or physical signs such as bruising.

Business Minister Paul Scully said:

“For too long, a lack of awareness and stigma around speaking about domestic abuse has stopped workplaces from putting in place the kind of help that survivors so desperately need.

“I know from personal experience that both bosses and colleagues are in a unique position to help spot the signs of domestic abuse and ensure survivors get the support they need so they no longer have to suffer in silence.

“That doesn’t mean making employers into counsellors or healthcare workers, but the actions I’ve outlined today – which can be as simple as providing a safe space to talk – can have a life-changing impact on survivors.”

The open letter comes as the government publishes the final report from its Review into Workplace Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse.

The report found that a lack of awareness of warning signs, stigma around talking about domestic abuse in the workplace, and a lack of knowledge about specialist services is preventing domestic abuse survivors getting the help they need in the workplace.

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said:

“Domestic abuse is a devastating crime which shatters lives. It is incredibly important that everyone works together to tackle this horrific crime, and that includes employers – whether that is supporting survivors in the workplace, ensuring staff know how to spot signs of abuse, or assisting victims in seeking help they need.

“Many employers are already supporting their staff who are experiencing domestic abuse in practical ways and we want this to become “business as usual” for all employers.”

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone

The report also found that stereotyping of the types of people that can be affected by domestic abuse is hindering support. This is despite clear evidence showing that it can happen to anyone, no matter their gender, age, ethnicity or economic status.

While women are disproportionately affected by of domestic abuse, failure to look beyond stereotypes of the typical ‘victim’ may mean clear warning signs are missed and survivors are made to suffer in silence.

According to the 2019 Crime Survey for England and Wales, an estimated 800,000 men suffered from domestic violence in 2018 to 2019.

Being able to work is critical for survivors of domestic abuse. Work not only provides an income but provides a sense of purpose and direction for survivors.

As well as being a place of safety and respite from their abuser, going to work allows survivors to make important social connections outside the home, which can have a massive impact on their health and wellbeing.

For many survivors, it can be one of the few places they feel safe to speak out about what they are going through.

The Ask for ANI scheme

Ask For Ani Safe Spaces Window Poster Image: Open Government Licence v3.0
Ask For Ani Safe Spaces Window Poster Image: Open Government Licence v3.0

Alongside the Review into Workplace Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse, the government has also announced the launch of the Ask for ANI scheme, ensuring new victims of domestic abuse will be able to access much needed support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK.

The codeword scheme, launched by the Home Office alongside Boots and independent pharmacies, allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help accessing support.

A trained pharmacy worker will then offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.

John Guinn
I am the editor of The Flitwick Chronicle. This is an independent, local news service based in Bedfordshire. The Chronicle provides local news that is investigative, inclusive and relevant to the residents of Flitwick.

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