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Why workplaces are high-risk for victims of stalking

Posted on: 11/09/2017

Many employees often see their work place as a ‘Safe Space’ however in contrast workplaces are unprepared for dealing with stalking or domestic abuse.  Only 50% of businesses have a domestic abuse policy and less than 20% have a stalking policy.  The risk this poses to business can include, high absenteeism, low productivity, breach of policies, financial loss.
The most dangerous time for an employee to be at risk of stalking is when a relationship has ended and that is when an abusive ex-partner is most likely to stalk, when they are at their most dangerous and the victim is most vulnerable.   A perpetrator of abuse has no respect for boundaries therefore attempting to access an ex-partner via the workplace will not deter them.
The impact this has on a person is devastating and life changing.  The victim may need to close all their social media accounts, move house, leave their job and leave the area entirely.  Stalkers will also target their victims’ friends, family and work colleagues.
As an employer, what do you have in place to address this?  How would you respond if an employee came to you and says, “I have a problem with this person, I don’t know what to do?”  It is imperative that an employee can talk to someone who has received the necessary training to address this in the workplace.  It is important to remember that a victim will suffer 100 incidences of stalking before they finally report it.
Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and staff and need to be fully aware of the nature and impact of stalking and domestic abuse, on an individual and the business.
High-profile cases of stalking in the workplace have included: –
Hollie Gazzard –  stalked by an ex-partner and killed at her workplace in a beauty salon.  Hollie was only 20 years old.  Leaving a relationship with an abusive partner is the most dangerous time and when a victim is at their most vulnerable. Hollie had repeatedly tried to end her relationship with her ex-partner, Asher Maslin.  She ended her relationship with him only days before he stalked and murdered her in the hairdressing and beauty salon where she worked in Gloucester.
Not enough is understood or being done to protect victims and prevent perpetrators of stalking carrying out their harmful crimes. Stalking can happen to anyone, it can affect women and men of all ages and backgrounds, but it’s more likely to be targeted towards females.
Unhelpful attitudes that need to change…
“Oh you have an admirer, aren’t you the lucky one!”
“Hopefully it will fizzle out.” A police officer’s response after a victim has reported stalking offences to the police for 7 years!

Domestic abuse & stalking costs UK businesses more than £2.3bn per year, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will experience stalking in their life, 50% of stalking victims have curtailed or stopped work due to stalking, 79% of perpetrators will use workplace resources to target their victims.
Julie Johns of Safe space Consultancy says, “Many employees see their work place as a ‘safe space’ but many businesses are unprepared for dealing with this issue.” Having a clear understanding of the issue means you can spot the signs of an employee suffering domestic abuse and/or stalking before it gets to crisis point.  Thereby reducing the risk of harm to a valued employee and to your business.
Safe space Consultancy in association with Dorset Rape Crisis and Stress Right are hosting an introductory training event for employers and HR Managers on 20th September 2017 at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth.  Tickets are available to purchase via https://well-being-in-the-workplace-for-employers.eventbrite.co.uk
Further information can be found via https://www.safespaceconsultancy.org
Or contact: Julie Johns
Email: contact@safespaceconsultancy.org

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