In this country, the government has been warning about a growth of violence against women during the recession both in and out of the work place. The Equalities Office has published a document called Real Help Now for Women, which contains advice for recession-related domestic violence along with discrimination from employers.
The government’s definition of domestic violence is “Any incident of threatening behavior, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional).” This violence and abuse is caused by the misuse of power and control within a context of male privilege and dominance, with the aim of the abuser getting what they want and gaining control.
Abuse often starts insidiously with witty teasing that appears – to both the victim and the outsider – as charming and normal, if a little disrespectful. It escalates into the typical signs of domestic abuse: destructive criticism; verbal abuse; mocking; threatening behaviour; sulking; lying; breaking trust; pressuring; embarrassing and putting the victim down; and, of course, betrayal on many levels.
Sessions of abuse are followed by denial from the abuser, projecting the blame onto the other person and begging for forgiveness. If left unchecked, it can escalate to physical violence, where the once much-loved friend and colleague is suddenly not just indulging in a bit of slapping around, but has the victim in a headlock, telling them over and over again how much they want to kill them and reaching for the knife rack. Quite apart from the constant fear, the breach of trust is beyond all comprehension.
Currently, a shocking one in four women experience domestic violence over their lifetime. Abuse of any sort in the workplace is rarely reported. If this danger continues unchecked and unrecognised, violent crime in the home and in the workplace will only escalate.