I believe my employee is abused
AlexDons · 06/03/2023 21:23
I have no concrete proof for this. I will write down the context and hopefully get some clarity.
I met Sara in a work event, she is a volunteer. She is a musician, quite gifted as I understand. I wanted to learn the piano for years so I asked her on the spot if she does any tutoring and accepted. I asked for her contact information to set it up and she said that I should contact her in the charity she volunteers in. To this day, she hasn't given me any contact information - no emails, no phone, no address.
She has a glorious sense of humour and seems taken-aback when I acknowledge it or any other attributes she has. On the day of our meeting she told me a story, cut herself short and apologised for boring me, saying "I am told I bore people sometimes, sorry" which was just... weird. When I told her that whoever said this is wrong and she should finish her story she was surprised.
We have just finished our tenth lesson and I have noticed that she was not healthy. She appears quite meek and soft-spoken. Again, it doesn't look like she is a naturally shy person. Just scared. Other times it is like her true self comes to life and she is not like that at all.
On our previous lesson she got absolutely terrified when her phone rang. She refused to pick it up when I told her to feel free to do so.
She asked to get paid in cash. I asked her rather conversationally if she has a bank account and she said she doesn't because she "doesn't like banks". Which was strange, but stranger even she was obviously lying.
I asked her if she lives with flatmates or friends - she told me she lives with her girlfriend. She didn't elaborate as she usually does when we have a chat - she completely closed off and changed the subject.
Today, she showed up even thinner, even more tired with black circles under her eyes. She was late and was so distressed that I tried to get her to open up with tea and biscuits and asked her how is everything at home and said "yeah, fine, sure" paused and added "I mean all relationships have problems I guess" It didn't seem right at the time to ask her what she means by problems, but I did tell her that if someone is not feeling safe in a relationship or valued, this is not a "usual" problem. She promptly asked me to start our lesson and she feels much better, thank you very much.
For context, I have been a soldier in the British Army for a few decades - I know what fear looks like and this woman looks terrified at times. On the other hand, I think that I may be overthinking this and my judgment is clouded because I have witnessed some distressing scenes.
Can I ask whoever is reading this - is there a way to help her open up? Are my concerns valid? I am thinking I should offer her a payrise, in case she is hiding this money from her spouse - but I don't know what else to do.
Bouledeneige · 07/03/2023 13:19
Having run a charity that had a large number of volunteers our policy was to strongly advise volunteers to have boundaries and not divulge personal contact details including bank details with clients (as we would advise paid staff) and to manage clients within professional boundaries. We had volunteers who were abused, exploited or harassed by clients so we needed to protect them under our safeguarding responsibilities.
I share that as background. I think your motivation is very kind but it might feel instructive to get if you go much further in your interactions with her.
Thelnebriati · 07/03/2023 23:24
''she is perfectly friendly with everyone over there but has frequent panic attacks, that she doesn't acknowledge (he told me this, so if it happened, I would be prepared for it), she has never joined them for drinks or any social events.''
You could write that about me; I have bi-polar disorder and PTSD. I don't talk about it with random strangers. Its a relief to talk about something else.
If you still have concerns talk to the charity that she volunteers for and be guided by them.
RotundBeagle · 08/03/2023 18:44
Someday, maybe write a note and place it next to her with a squeeze of the hand. Say something like "If we're ever on the phone and he's hurting you, say 'Did I miss the meeting' and I'll call for help."
She's dating a woman though isn't she?
Tbf, I think DV is statistically more common in lesbian relationships than gay men or straight couples so it's totally possible her girlfriend is abusing her.
alwaysawaster · 16/03/2023 17:27
I had a colleague I suspected of being abused. In my case, I mentioned without making any connection to her or her situation that I had received help from WA in the past and that I'd help anyone in a similar situation without hesitation whether that was just a chat or a place to stay, I'd do it.
Some time later I was able to help her. But she also had an excellent family network so didn't need anything from me other than a handhold when she felt a bit wobbly in the weeks afterwards.
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