The lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis, has mandated that we practice social distancing by staying at home. However, this means that those who are vulnerable to family violence are in situations where they are spending a great deal of time at home with the perpetrators. For those in strained situations, going to work helps to create regular separation. Spending many hours together at home is exposing those already in abusive situations to violence that they cannot escape.
What business can do
Although domestic violence sits outside the remit of what occurs at work, companies have a significant role to play. A critical area where business can assist is in training employees on warning signs, support and personal safety.

  1. Train About Warning SignsPeople who experience domestic violence are often more likely to confide in a co-worker. They are generally reluctant to talk to managers of supervisors.  One thing a company can do is to train all employees to recognise the warning signs and risk factors for domestic violence. 
  2. Establish a Support Network: Companies can provide support across the business for employees experiencing domestic violence. An effective team which include the employee’s supervisor, trusted co-worker/s, the human resources department, EAP Assist provider and union representatives.
  3. Encourage At-Risk Employees to Develop a Safety Plan: All employees should ensure their safety at home during COVID-19. 

 What you can do

  • If you sense trouble, move to a ‘lower risk space’: rooms with two exits and fewer things that can be used as weapons, where you can be seen or heard from the outside.
  • Learn – and teach your children – to position themselves ‘between trouble and the door’.
  • Teach your children how to call police 000 and to know their home address.
  • Where possible, have a charged phone and a hidden second phone.
  • Create signals and code words that tell your children to go to a pre-arranged safe place.
  • Create signals for neighbours and family members, such as a porch light or drawn shade.
  • Have an escape plan and back-up and rehearse in the dark and with your children.
  • Keep spare keys, important documents and hidden cash for emergencies.
  • Be aware that travel restrictions may impact your escape or safety plan.
  • Consider how you can use essential services such as your GP, other health services, school, post office or supermarket as part of your safety plan.

It’s unclear right now how long the social distancing requirements will be in place and how much vulnerable employees will be threatened by domestic violence. A critical area where business can assist is in training employees on warning signs, providing support networks and developing a personal safety plan. For further advice contact EAP Assist.