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Victim services

16 Days of Action: Supporting employees who are victims of or affected by domestic abuse

Portrait of two young women, one looking directly at the camera and the other looking away from it. Overlaid is the text "16 Days of Action against Gender-Based Violence".

Backed by the United Nations and organisations around the world, 16 days of Action against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign which calls for the end of violence against women and girls (VAWG). Catch22 are running a series of blogs highlighting the various different forms VAWG can take, approaches to tackling it and supporting its victims and how we can keep up the movement’s momentum.

Today’s blog is by Manjeeta Sunnar-Atwal, Head of Service at Victim First.

Catch22’s Victim Services are raising awareness of the 16 Days of Action against Gender Based Violence. This year the theme of the campaign is ‘Unite’ and I wanted to focus on what employers can do to help their employees who are victims of or affected by domestic violence.

At Catch22, our vision is simple. Everyone should have a good place to live, a purpose in life and good people around them. Our services seek to unite and strengthen a diverse community by building resilience and aspiration in people and communities. We believe that to support a diverse community, we need diverse services. We have experience delivering a range of victim services and broader work including child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, substance misuse and services supporting gang exit.

Catch22 Victim Services are passionate about raising awareness of domestic violence and sexual violence. We are proud to have a supporting team that encourage and empower each other to have difficult conversations. Within our services we ensure that all our staff members have regular access to supervision, case reviews and debriefs with their line managers after supporting sensitive and complex cases. However, if they ever require the same support themselves, we ensure that they are pointed in the right direction. Whether that means disclosing a matter to another colleague or speaking to someone confidentially through our counselling line, we ensure that colleagues can make the choice of what support and help they would like.

We champion raising awareness to end domestic abuse and sexual violence. Here are few good things that you can do to support your colleagues:

  1. Know the warning signs. Is your colleague constantly checking in with their partner before they go anywhere or spend any money?
  2. Understand the basics. Understanding the different forms of domestic abuse or sexual violence will help you help someone in need.
  3. Don’t pressure them. There are so many reasons why a victim of domestic abuse might stay in the relationship; fear, shame, financial reasons, cultural pressures, children. If they have finally got the courage to open up to you, pressuring them to leave might frighten them. You could also become yet another person trying to control them, and that’s the last thing they need. Don’t be judgemental and be there to listen and support them in however way they want you to.
  4. Help them develop a safety plan. The plan could be a leaving plan, mental coping mechanisms, empowerment goals etc. Safety plans depends on the person and what their needs are. So, listen and be there to help them find what they need.
  5. Be supportive. This isn’t about you. It’s about them. Support them in what every way they need and guide them towards the professionals who are trained to provide help.
  6. Make sure they know that confidential help is accessible. Make sure they know that there is help for any victim of domestic abuse and help them by guiding them.

16 Days of Action is a powerful campaign that provides victims and witnesses and our colleagues with a platform to raise their voices and take an active stand against domestic violence and sexual violence. It’s so important to play our part to educate people and communities, raise awareness and support and empower victims.

Every person is different. Every need is different. For that reason, we ensure that there is a broad range of diverse service available for everyone. Our tailored support plan ensures that everyone is supported in an individualised approach. We will continue raise the profile of the campaign and the voices of the people who need our support, across the organisation and beyond.