2016 is the 25th year of the ‘16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign. This is a global movement led by the UN to raise awareness about domestic and gender-based violence. The campaign started on 25 November, ‘White Ribbon Day’, which you might have read about in Sir Derek Jones’s blog, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
You may not be aware that 27% of women and 13% of men reported being a victim of any domestic abuse since the age of 16 (ONS 2016). The common perception is that it’s just women who are affected but men can be victims too. It can take many forms including emotional, physical, social and financial abuse.
Some 75% of domestic abuse victims are targeted at work, for example through harassing phone calls, texts or emails from abusive partners. Managers and colleagues may be in a good position to spot the warning signs. For example, victims of abuse often isolate themselves and receive an unusual number of calls and messages. By recognising these warning signs, individuals can be signposted to places of help.
Examples of good practice
Public Health England (PHE) has trained all of its Workplace Wellbeing Champions and the HR business managers to raise awareness of domestic violence issues and signpost people to support and advice if they reach out for help. There is an identified lead for domestic violence in the HR team and additional training is planned for the Occupational Health Workforce. This is an integrated approach that sits alongside PHE’s work to revise its policies and procedures with support from the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence.
The Department of Health launched its Domestic Violence Support Group in 2013. The group’s aim is to provide staff affected by domestic violence with the time and attention to help them to identify a way forward and to link them to sources of support and advice. This group is made up of staff volunteers who have received training on what approach to take when someone comes forward for help and support.
If you are leading a domestic violence initiative in your department, I would be interested to hear about it.
What support is available for civil servants?
Everyone in the Civil Service has access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that can provide information and support such as counselling. If you don’t know who the EAP provider is in your department, you can look on the intranet, speak to HR or ask your manager.
In addition, The Charity for Civil Servants provides financial support and outreach to people impacted by domestic violence.
What other support is available?
Women affected by domestic violence can seek help from the National Domestic Violence helpline. Men enduring violence can access support from the Men’s Advice line. Domestic violence can also have a significant and enduring impact on children and young people, and The Hide Out provides a safe place for children and young people in the UK to access support.
A topic not often discussed is the need to break the cycle of violence by working with the perpetrators of domestic violence. Charities such as Respect have specialists that focus on changing behaviours and managing the risk of perpetrators.
I hope that anyone who needs support in the Civil Service is able to reach out and find something suitable for them and that these 16 days of action will make us all more aware of the issues involved.