November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month!

Woman Abuse Prevention Month

November is Woman Abuse Prevention month. It was created with the idea that every woman has the right to live a safe life without the threat of violence. Abuse can be an actual physical, emotional, verbal or sexual act, or the threatened intent to commit these acts. Unfortunately, spousal violence is consistently identified as the most common form of violence against women in Canada (Ontario, 2014). While men can also be victims of domestic violence, we use this month to spread awareness for women specifically, as they are statistically more likely to be victims. Education, prevention and early intervention are critical in putting an end to women abuse.

Why We Wear Purple

In 2010, the London Abused Women’s Centre launched the Shine the Light on Woman Abuse Campaign. Purple is a symbol of survival and courage, and on November 15th of every year, individuals wear purple in recognition of Shine the Light. This day falls in the middle of woman abuse prevention month and aims to spread awareness of the different forms of abuse, how to prevent abuse, resources for if you are being abused, and to honour victims of abuse.

What Employers Need to Know

Domestic violence impacts the victim in so many different ways, including their work life. It’s important for an employer to be able to recognize the signs of abuse. A plan to be able to handle difficult situations in the workplace to keep employees safe is part of the employer support program. Here are some tips for employers to ensure safety in the workplace:

  • Have a preventative action plan for what to do if a violent perpetrator shows up at work in an attempt to abuse a victim in the workplace
  • Implement a Violence and Harassment Policy and Program in your workplace to promote zero tolerance of abuse of any kind – Click here for more
  • Provide education to employees regarding signs of abuse, as well as resources on what to do if they or someone they know is being abused
  • Learn the signs of abuse. The most common signs include:
    1. Physical bruises and markings
    2. Making excuses for such markings or trying to cover them up with heavy make-up, baggy clothes or sunglasses
    3. A change in personality, such as becoming withdrawn, quiet or becoming disorganized or scattered
    4. Constant anxiety, apprehension and apologizing

As an employer,  you must maintain workplace boundaries, however if you believe your employee is in danger, it is necessary to start the conversation to ensure they are safe. Check in with your employee, establish trust and provide resources for where they can receive assistance and counseling.

Resources

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police immediately. If you are in a crisis and need someone to talk to, you can reach the Assaulted Women’s Helpline. You will receive advice and resources on how to proceed, toll-free at 1-866-863-0511. Technology is advancing with implementing prevention strategies to assist individuals who may be at immediate risk. For example, iPhone carriers can hit their lock screen button five times in a row and an emergency SOS will appear, allowing an individual to discreetly notify the police that they are in danger. Gowan Consulting wants every employee to feel safe and secure – contact us for more ways we can assist you in the workplace!

 

Works Cited

Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. (2014). Ending Violence. Retrieved from http://www.women.gov.on.ca/owd/english/ending-violence/wapm.shtml

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