Suspect my staff member is DA victim(24 Posts)
I suspect a member of my team is a victim of Domestic Abuse and after an escalation of work related issues and a disclosure from another team member, I have to speak to her about it tomorrow.
I'm so worried. I consider myself a kind and sympathetic manager and I have practiced the conversation in my head many many times but I am dreading it.
I fear she's going to shut down on me as soon as I say it. But I have to ask her, I have to open the door for her to choose if she wants help.
Does anyone have any words of wisdom to help me say and do the right things tomorrow?
Why do you have to speak to her about it? I think that makes a difference as to how you approach it.
In reality, given the stats on DA, there is probably someone who has or is going through it on most teams.
Does she know you are aware of the situation or are you asking her to disclose it to you?
You need to be very aware that by approaching her about this that you are potentially placing her at further and increased risk.
Can you take her away from the usual work area? Maybe to another office. She may not feel comfortable talking about it where her go workers are. I remember sitting in my boss’ Office talking about very very personal stuff, crying and a co worker walking in. It was around the work area within minutes, that I was upset.
She has disclosed financial abuse and controlling coercive behaviour to me, plus her friend (another team member) has disclosed some other issues to me.
She has been off work with an injury and today turned up with another one.
I took my fears to my senior manager, who suggested I read the organisations DA staff policy, which suggests that, in these circumstances, the line manager opens a conversation that allows the staff member to disclose and ensures they know we can help and can put measures in place to keep them safe.
We work in social housing so are well versed in this field with tenants but I have never had to deal with it, with a staff member.
I suspect she won't disclose to me but I feel the policy is correct & I am comfortable with the need for me to have the conversation. I'm just really nervous about it.
My general management style is faking it until I feel it but this is so important and I want to keep her safe first and foremost.
dewdropsonskittens - this is absolutely at the forefront of my mind and definitely contributing to how worried I am about this.
I have avoided placing any demands on her that I feel could put her in danger. For instance, her partner keeps very close checks on her during the day, which is impacting her work but I am making allowances and adjustments for it, rather than tell her it has to stop because I believe it would put her in danger if I forced her to ignore phone calls and ban visits from her partner.
But with the escalation of injuries, I feel she's unsafe currently.
PostivelyPerf good idea. I've noticed that our interview rooms are not soundproof at all and this could make her feel very uncomfortable.
I can't leave the office with her as her partner will know (the partner tracks her phone) so I will find a better space within the building.
Sit side by side and not face to face, have some paperwork that backs up what you are saying and some practical bits you can do for now.
Ask open questions, and don’t be afraid of some silence, long pauses, but Play some gentle background music so the air isn’t heavy with silence.
Have something to do with your hands if possible? Maybe sorting through some photocopies. Make the talk one of the actives you’re engaging in.
Offer her time to come back with a trusted friend of colleague to continue the conversation.
Make big your hands busy I mean.
Google, non confrontational talk.
Thank you Atalune - that's really good advice and tips.
Also have some tissues and drinking water handy. I remember being really upset at work one day and my manager kindly nipped to my desk and got my bag so I could fix up my makeup before I had to face my colleagues.
In my experience people actually disclose things like this with very little prompting if you just ask. It's why mws and other professionals are trained to just ask directly to women who are at risk. Problem is people are often just afraid to ask. If she wants to tell you, she will, if she doesn't, that is her choice, but there is no harm in just asking. And the fact that you are posting here means that you will obviously do your best to be as sensitive and supportive as possible. X
Can she not leave her phone in the office with another staff member whilst you go out to chat?
You do sound like a kind and thoughtful manager. I’d also be worried about the injuries.
I think you’ll feel your way with this one, but you’ve had some good suggestions- private space, tissues, water etc.
Also ask her what she needs from you. Whether she discloses her situation or not, this can make her feel cared for and supported and can open the door to future conversations.
Thank you all, I appreciate the replies and advice.
I did a job in the past where I sometimes had to ask some very delicate questions. It got better results if the question was just asked without any fuss and without any expression on your face.
I can see the point of having papers in your hands to keep your hands looking busy but it might also be a good idea to be ready to do some gentle touching to reassure her without encompassing her in a hug which might upset her further.
You could say something like we should both leave our phones on/in our desks so that we are not disturbed. As far as the partner will know she is in her work premises which is where she should be.
The partner constantly phoning and visiting and checking on this female is something I have seen before. It did not happen to me but I was watching from the sidelines. It was horrible and did not end well
You sound very caring, thoughtful and sensitive, OP, and I think that this wilm cone across durìng your chat. Just express that her safety and welfare are your top priorities and that you want her to be comfortable. Stress your discretion and that you & the organisation are there to listen, help, as much as she needs. She might not disclose much initially but I'm sure she'll appreciate knowing she has your support.
If you're going into this kind of conversation be gentle, but also direct. Explain that you've got concerns and you'd like to help. Ask her if she feels safe at home, how the relationship is, if there is any kind of behaviour from her partner that makes her unhappy or uncomfortable.
Make sure you can back it up with support, such as the contact details for women's aid, and make it clear that work is her safe space to make any phone calls required to ensure her safety at any time.
Also ensure that you've cleared your schedule for the day so that you won't be interrupted or clock watching no matter how long your conversation lasts.
Does she have children?
If so, if she does disclose abuse, you will be unable to keep this to yourself and will need to make it clear that her children will also need help and support and social services will have to be made aware (you can do this via your local council website usually).
Good luck to you OP it'll also be a tough day for you. Do you have anyone who can support you after this discussion (while also maintaining the staff member's confidence if appropriate and safe to do so)
Thanks everyone for the advice. I had the conversation today and although she didn't disclose anything, she took the advice leaflets and phone numbers I provided her with and text me earlier this evening to say thank you and that she was going to call the Live Fear Free helpline for advice.
Well done OP, you sound like a great manager x
That’s brilliant. You obviously did a good job and I hope the poor woman and get away from the bastard.
I wish you were my manager you sound so lovely.
I hope she did not take the information home. If he is that bad, he will be searching her bag.
She needs a safe place to store her private belongings/whatever information is given to her.
Is there anyway she could have a cheap phone for such calls. If he is monitoring/searching her phone, he will see strange numbers and all hell will break lose.
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