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#16Days – Why domestic abuse is every employer’s business

As you’ve probably already heard by now, we’re in the middle of 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence – an international awareness-raising campaign that’s also urging business to take action against abuse and violence.

In this blog, I want to talk a little bit about how the NHSBSA is doing just that, and why I decided to get involved.

At the NHSBSA we have a Domestic Abuse Support Network (DASN) – a group of volunteers trained by the Northumbria Police Commissioner to support fellow colleagues experiencing domestic abuse.

Establishing the network was incredibly important for our organisation. Domestic abuse doesn’t just stay at home – it’s a workplace issue that needs to be tackled. Around 1.5 million employees in the UK experience domestic abuse each year with an estimated cost of £1.9 billion to business in lost productivity, time off work and sick pay. The workplace also plays an important role by providing a safe haven and opportunities for victims to seek out help.

My reason for becoming a DASN volunteer is a personal one. Thankfully I have never experienced any forms of domestic abuse, but my sister has. It’s extremely difficult seeing someone close to you be abused in many different forms: physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. As a family member, you can feel powerless – you try your best to help and offer support, but it’s still incredibly difficult for victims to see a way out. My sister has thankfully been rehomed in a refuge with her children, and she is still adjusting well, although her ex-partner still tries to contact her.

No matter what she went through – and still going through – I am always there for her when she needs to talk.

Seeing the effects of domestic abuse first hand inspired me to take action and help raise awareness. To support what my sister and others like her go through, I set myself the challenge of running the Great North Run for the first time earlier this year. As someone who had never run before, this was a big commitment for me! After a lot of training, I accomplished my challenge and raised £260 for Women’s Aid.

Back at the office, I put myself forward to become a member of the NHSBSA’s Domestic Abuse Support Network. I received training through the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police which allowed me to become a point of contact for colleagues experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse. Our group attends regular courses which help us provide appropriate support, advice and signposting to victims of domestic abuse.

Coming forward and having that first conversion is a big step, which is why all DASN volunteers are trained to help people confidentially and sensitively.

Domestic abuse should be every employer's business – the workplace should be a place of normality and safety for everyone. A lot of organisations can do more to aid their employees who endure domestic abuse. It’s important that we speak up so that employers can be better equipped at acknowledging the signs of domestic abuse and having an appropriate support network in place.