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Civil Service

Domestic violence: how partnership working is quite literally saving lives (1)

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It's the people who make an organisation… If a member of your staff is affected by domestic violence: It's Your Business.

Melissa Morbeck, CEO, The Corporate Alliance

Judith Smith, For You By You
Judith Smith

The simple facts about domestic violence in the UK are quite staggering: in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of domestic violence. With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men affected by it during their adult lives, this issue touches every workplace up and down the country. Some 75% of people who endure violence are targeted at work – and less than 30% of workplaces know how to respond.

Departments working together

Numerous employers have worked tirelessly on the issues of domestic violence and its effects in the workplace. Uniquely, three such employers have worked in partnership with The Charity for Civil Servants and The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (The Corporate Alliance): The Department of Health, Public Health England and the Department for Energy and Climate Change have all benefitted from this collaborative approach, where as single organisations with expertise but limited resources, they’ve come together in response to a need - and given a robust and meaningful response.

Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence
Click to find out more about the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence


By working together, with each playing to their own strengths, they’ve helped several employees in DH, PHE and DECC who were experiencing domestic violence, to be kept safe and in work. Individually, the change they could have affected would be limited.

Partnerships are a win-win situation for all

If you’re someone who works in HR with responsibility for health and wellbeing in your department, this type of partnership working is probably something you’re starting to see more and more of. As we all juggle limited resources against the increasing demand for services, creating partnerships where we capitalise on each other’s strengths is a win-win situation – and it’s being increasingly replicated across the public sector.

How does it work?

The Corporate Alliance provides the practical tools, framework support and resources needed to take positive action. The employers have implemented robust policies, training, procedures and collaborative sensitive approach mechanisms for employees who self disclose and for managers who work with employees touched by abuse.

The Charity for Civil Servants provides the essential financial support and outreach to the person impacted, to help ensure both immediate safety and longer term social and economic sustainability. Without the Charity and the Alliance working together in the background there are several instances where people who were enduring violence at DH, PHE and DECC would have not received the links to external sector support nor to housing and financial support which ensured their safety. Simply put – by working together we’ve created a stronger response.

The bigger impact on both the individual and these departments is that valuable employees have been supported, kept safe and remain in work. They have been heard, respected and treated with dignity. And the evidence from The Charity for Civil Servants is that time and time again, when we offer support to a working civil servant, it’s the continuity of employment that gives the individual concerned the structure they need to get their lives back on track. Which in the end, is what we all want.

...the financial support you gave me, at a critical time and low point in my life, made all the’s enabled me to return to work and in all probability saved my job... thank you.

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  1. Comment by Caroline M Thacker posted on

    I agree with the that the title domestic violence doesn't cover every aspect. My ex-partner tried to play mind games. He was an alcoholic & bi-polar. After 4 years in an on/off relationship, I walked away - I didn't want the stress anymore. Two years on, I'm much happier without him.

  2. Comment by Judith Smith posted on

    Thank you for all your comments on this, the blog has clearly struck a chord with many of you. I do think it's important to say that the partnership seeks to support anyone experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of gender. Anyone reading this blog who wants to know more about how we can help them immediately or with any issues arising as a result of previous domestic abuse, is encouraged to contact the charity via its helpline 0800 056 2424.
    Concerning terminology, we do agree, it’s critical in the discussion and identification of domestic abuse and violence. It can be both a gateway to people who need to access our services but also a barrier for those who don’t identify with it, and it’s often difficult to find the right language to encompass all that we mean. Those who have experienced both and or either, particularly coercive control, speak of the ‘terrorisation’ and control that diminishes their being, and this applies equally to both men and women. We are in no way diminishing the impact by referring to the issue as ‘domestic violence’ but we do find that if we refer to it as ‘domestic abuse’ then the impact can often be dismissed, and it’s extremely important it isn’t.
    Judith Smith, Director of Help and Advisory Services, The Charity for Civil Servants

  3. Comment by Caroline posted on

    I was in an abusive marriage for several years .The most significant part of this was financial abuse which on top of everything had meant that I was unable to leave my partner as I had children to support.The charity for CS was a life saver at a point where I had reached rock bottom..the kindness, support and financial support made such a signinicant difference to how I was able to function at work and in my life outside work.There is support and help where you least expect it and I would recommend to any woman or man who is in my previous situation to contact them for support. You aren't the only one to find yourself in a difficult situation ,it isn't your fault and there is a light at the end of the tunnel,I am the proof of that!!

  4. Comment by steve posted on

    Great to learn of this. My wife is currently in prison after years of domestic violence. The help and support I received from my line manager was amazing. The ' support' from senior managament was distressing and invasive. Because of this I was unable to be honest at work and took sick leave to avoid them seeing the evidence of domestic violence.

  5. Comment by Hazel posted on

    Just to let you know that there are some free Mindfulness resources available for anyone to access if they are interested and one I recommend is available for download via the following It is an app and can be downloaded onto an Iphone. The first ten mindfulness sessions are free. I also recommend the "Mindfulness for Busy People" book by Dr Michael Sinclair and Dr Josie Seydel because it contains lots of practical exercises that are easy to do. There is also the "Overcoming Traumatic Stress" Book which takes a cognitive behavioural approach and is written by a Chartered Clinical Psychologist. It is part of the NHS books on prescription scheme.
    I think you have a legitimate point having to wait years for counselling so some of these resouces might help a person cope whilst waiting.

  6. Comment by Anna posted on


    Try Mind. When I was suffering abuse from my son. Mind helped me and there was no time limit to their councelling, they helped me emotionally and practiacally. They also supported my youngest son who was also being abused, they got other people inovled to help out while still supporting. They do require a payment if you are in work, but it was only £5 a session, Their support stopped when I felt ready to move on.

    They were fansatic.

  7. Comment by Laura posted on

    I beleive that any raised awareness of domestic abuse/violence is a good thing. This should not be such a taboo closed door subject. As a survivor of DV just reading through these comments helps me to not feel so alone. I have been lucky and am very supported in my work place and continue to be supported especially as I suffer severe symptoms of C-PTSD for which i am receiving trauma therapy through the NHS.
    I often speak out about my abuse as I feel the more we talk out loud about such abuse the less taboo the subject can be.
    I am a survivor NOT a victim

  8. Comment by Charly posted on

    Brilliant blog. This is the type of worthwhile work that Civil Servants should be doing more of rather than the usual political game playing.This win win approach not only aids colleagues who are in a bad situation (one that anyone is susceptible to) but gives a clear message that domestic abuse is wrong and not something to be covered up or ignored by colleagues and society as a whole.

  9. Comment by Sarah posted on

    This is a really wonderful thing and I am very glad that this does exist, however it does feel like a bitter/sweet, "locking of the door after the Pony has bolted" thing as when I was facing terrifying abuse, finacial ruin and homelessness due to being in an abusive relationship my Civil Service work place gave me no support what so ever and instead decided it would be a good idea to put me under more pressure and try to fire me as a result of the situation. It would seem that some places take this more seriously than others and some care about their staff and their well being more than others. It is a very serious topic though and I think it really does need to be understood and given more empathy to than it is ofetn given.

  10. Comment by Barry posted on

    As a male victim of domestice abuse and violence, may I say that the ramifications go way, way beyond the initial violence.
    My female ex-partner is not only a bully but cunning and manipulative too. I have had to endure her violence and then her malicious allegation to Police about me after she attacked me (making out that I was the aggressor). In an attempt to have me removed from my home (she would have sought a Court's Occupation Order), she then concocted a series of false allegations, reported to Police. I have been under investigation by Police (now thankfully exonerated) yet completely innocent! And all the time I have had to maintain an air of 'normality' at work.
    To have openly revealed any of this would be deeply humiliating to me, and is an aspect that doesn't seem to have been touched upon. A female victim, I think, would have been believed and supported both practically and emotionally - as a man I don't feel that I can explore these avenues, if they even exist. The stress upon me has been enormous as I am still in constant fear of her, her potential violence and the allegations against me that will inevitably follow. No-one (apart from the Police) is aware any of this. Violence is most definitely NOT perpetrated solely by men and men need practical support too, in order to not feel humiliated or thought in some way to be "unable to cope".
    Sir Derek Jones, Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Government, has said "I know that there will be women within my own organisation who are suffering from some of these crimes in silence." I'd like him to be aware that there are possibly a great number of MEN in exactly the same position, with even more pressure on them to "keep silent".

  11. Comment by Bobbie posted on

    I agree 100% with Lola, it's all very well talking the talk, now lets see some action which doesn't appear to be happening as Katrina has pointed out. I was a victim of domestic abuse for years and turned to my Line Manager as I had nowhere else to go, I was pointed in the direction of a Civil Servant Welfare Officer who admitted she didn't know what to do to help me.

    I am still with my abuser so I have to remain anomymous but one day I will speak out and I hope all of the above comes to fruition.

  12. Comment by Lola posted on

    I have found that instances of domestic abuse resulting in time off work incur an Annual Leave penalty; there is no provision for Special Leave with Pay made available. Furthermore, accessing practical assistance is virtually impossible, with one organisation handing off to another or simply suggesting a look at a website. Any improvement on this situation is welcome, but it must be seen to deliver rather than be yet another good intention.

  13. Comment by Marie posted on

    Civil Servants are very lucky as regards there is so much help available. We are now more encouraged to speak about problems and sometimes it is only as time goes on we realize how a relationship from past or present can affect our lives (albeit an unfortunate domestic violence one from past can blight your whole life!). People may never speak about it but work through with support from good relationships! It's great now, with all technology people can remain anonymous. Plus people have to look after their overall health, be aware, eat well, exercise and little bit of things you fancy are good for you. Surround yourself with happy people, if possible. Think of good things. If it's sunny make more of effort to get out. Spoil yourself, buy that top you've walked past in 'Top Shop' even though you believe it's expensive. We are all important and all need to be spoilt once in a while. Dwell on good things! Seek help, especially when you can't think of nothing but a problem. Domestic violence is little steps slowly, write changes down you need to make. It's a plan, it's a way out! You listen to You!
    each other!

  14. Comment by George Jeffreys posted on

    Vastly more women are victims of abuse than men. Men are generally stronger than women. They also don't generally don't have the restrictions (eg. family, caring responsibilities, economic dependance0 that trap many women into an abusive relationship. Society will be more accepting of a majn walking away from an abusive relationship and will expect him to put up with it amnd would condone women being violent. However, because of this, if a man is stuck in an abusive relqationship, it can be worse fror them tryoing to get out and they may not have anywhere to turn to.

    • Replies to George Jeffreys>

      Comment by osma posted on

      a lot of the times men are too embarassed to report and abuse due to them looking weak. its scary that the figures are actully higher.

    • Replies to George Jeffreys>

      Comment by Si posted on

      'Vastly more women are victims of abuse than men. Men are generally stronger than women."
      Sorry but have you checked the stats on this? I have a little while ago and whilst I can't bring the figures to mind I was amazed at how little the gap was for male abuse victims compared to females.
      Chris makes some good points earlier on, Men do not get shelters etc (not to mention the very High male suicide rates).
      Also men are less likely to report cases because of the bravado image men are supposed to hold, the big boys don't cry syndrome, so figures are likely to be even higher than reported.
      Abuse in all it's form physical/mental etc is wrong be it male or female and should cover both equaly yet tailored to each ones needs.

  15. Comment by Tracy posted on

    What a great idea. I was affected by domestic violence a short time ago and used the nationally recognised charities for support. I received some good support from our employee assistance programme but I didn't know civil servants could get help on this particular issue. I think it may have helped because I didn't even recognise my experiences were actually domestic violence at the time.

  16. Comment by Ken Mavadia posted on

    Most work place abuse happens due to human ego or power play due to position of authority and sad thing about it is that abuser not even aware of it taking place.We are as human being normally prejudge and label others without even having any encounter or contact.We are taking ego as pride mistakenly most of the time.Judge not thy shall not be judged.

  17. Comment by Katrina posted on

    I have been trying to get help for years due to PTSD caused by domestic violence. I have been given the paltry 6 weeks counselling which didn't help a bit and from then on every door has been closed. I work for Access to Work funding CBT, psychiatric therapy and Mindfulness sessions for the working general public but cannot access any of this through work. After being diagnosed by a consultant I have been placed on an NHS waiting list and have been told I have at least another year to wait for treatment. My managers know about the problems I've been having and how it affects my ability to do my work but I've had no help whatsoever. All of this may look good on paper, but actually getting help is a minefield. I've hit a brick wall every time I've tried.

  18. Comment by Marie posted on

    Sounds great advice for unfortunate people to be in that sort of relationship. A long time ago I was myself in a domestic violent relationship. The civil service helps so many people, but the relationship was very complicated. People may never speak about these subjects, and probably would be great councillors. Great! Thank you

  19. Comment by Howard posted on

    excellent information

  20. Comment by Marion Furr, Chair DH Staff Health and Wellbeing programme posted on

    Fabulous blog - and so true. Our partnership working on staff health and wellbeing at DH has made many things possible. Without the Alliance and the Charity working with us, it would not have been possible to demonstrate our commitment to a number of Responsibility Deal pledges - including the mental health and domestic violence pledges.

    • Replies to Marion Furr, Chair DH Staff Health and Wellbeing programme>

      Comment by Chris Scrase posted on

      Good to see that male victims of domestic abuse are mentioned, although no figures given for the percentage of working men have to take time off work beacause of this.

      I would like to point out that the correct title should read domestic abuse not domestic violence as not all domestic abuse is viuolent but can still have a very traumatic effect on the victim.

      I would also like to point out that the media generally ignores male victims of abuse to the extent of verging on discrimination. Every month or so there seems to be a clip from a awareness abuse video shown on TV which always shows the male as the abuser and the female as the victim, I have never seen a clip showing the male as a victim. When the charity Mankind Initiative staged a scenario where a male was getting aggresive with a female people got invoilved to break it up. When the scenario was staged with the female getting aggresive with the male no one stepped in to help and there were even people seemingly finding the situation funny.

      If this partnership helps raise awareness of ALL victims of domestic abuse then I wish it every success as 1.2 million women & 700,000 men a year are victims and I don't know if these figures include victims of non partner abuse.

      • Replies to Chris Scrase>

        Comment by osma posted on

        very well said

      • Replies to Chris Scrase>

        Comment by Mike posted on

        Wow! I agree with Chris,s comments totally in the language used and agree that the term "Domestic Violance" should be re-addressed to "Domestic Abuse". You do not have to physically touch someone to cause harm however physical harm does heal its the words used and the language in which they are communicted in by the abuser which cause harm to the mind. Domestic abuse in my view and from my own personal expereince is indeed incredibly harmfull and it is designed to weakon a person thus destroying thier self confidence whilst giving a faulse sense of security. Constantly bringing a person down and rarely mentioning their worth is very damaging. I too would like to see a fare share attitude given out in such advertisements of DV and wish that for recognition to be given that men are also equally as affected by this dilema rather than just say oh men sometimes are affected. Its very difficult for a man to admit for fear of being seen as pathetic or subservant.