The Year of The Women …and a few good men!

women's march 2018

2018 has arrived and with it the spotlight fully focussed on women, just as it was 100 years previously with votes for some women being won by the suffragettes resulting in the Representation of the People Act of 1918.  However, in 2018, we still have a way to go before we achieve equality, particularly in the workplace with issues such as equal pay and sexual harassment being the hot topics.

During my time working as the founder and creative director of The Butterfly Foundation, a local arts-based domestic abuse charity, we worked with many survivors of domestic abuse, women and men.  Through utilising the healing power of the creative arts, we supported women and men to empower themselves, to overcome the trauma of abuse, gain in confidence, self-worth and to have a voice.  It is my understanding that abuse is the same whoever is perpetrating it i.e. male to female, female to male or in same sex relationships and the impact of that abuse is felt the same whoever is the victim of the abuse.

I appreciate that the crimes of sexual harassment, stalking, domestic abuse are NOT equal i.e.

  • 53% of women and 20% of men had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or at their place of study
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will experience stalking in their lifetime
  • 84% of all reported domestic abuse crime is men perpetrating abuse against women

and that domestic abuse particularly is recognised as a gender crime and rightly so.

I always found it interesting that because we also supported men within the charity, there were some women that didn’t agree with this (not necessarily women we supported within the charity).  I also found it interesting that when discussing the charity there was an assumption it was a woman only group.  I came across attitudes from some men (perpetrators) that ridiculed all-women groups, that because it was women, it was acceptable to put it down, de-value it, thereby extending the perpetrator attitude, not just towards a female but directing it towards an assumed all-female group.

I have attended many anti-violence protests in my time, anti-war protests and attended rallies and marches that are all-female, protesting against violence against women and girls.  However, I have concluded that women’s groups, campaigns and marches can benefit and be stronger with a few good men adding their support and voices to the cause also, just as a few good men influenced and supported the suffragette movement.  In fact, I think its necessary as women-only groups, campaigns, marches can become an easy target for perpetrator men who want to criticise, ridicule and undermine the rights of women.

There are some concerns around this as it is known that perpetrators will infiltrate campaigns, conferences and marches in an attempt to either undermine or hide behind them such as the recent publicity with the actor James Franco and the Time’s Up campaign.

However, with a few good men standing up and adding their voices in support of women, the message that is sent out to society is stronger and can weaken the destructive purpose of the perpetrator.  Perpetrators of violence and abuse are basically cowards, they rely on each other colluding with their negative attitudes and behaviour.  They will soon beat a hasty retreat once a few good men stand up and point the finger at them, in support of the women who may be their mother, daughter, sister, friend, work colleague.

In today’s social climate with the increasing acceptance and freedom to inhabit sexual identity and gender, it is even more important, I believe, to stand up together against violence and abuse, to join voices and shout out that violence, abuse, harassment and inequality is not to be tolerated, either at home, in the street or in the workplace.  The evidence of this is happening all over the world as hundreds of thousands of people have been galvanised into action through attending the women’s marches: London 21 January 2018 Women’s March for Gender Equality.

For further info please follow link to: Safe Space Consultancy

Why workplaces are high-risk for victims of stalking

We need a culture change in our attitude to stalking if we are going to stop these devastating crimes from happening.  How can we bring this about? We need to raise awareness about stalking and work together to reduce the risk of people getting harmed.

To date, stalking has not been taken seriously enough and a new report published on 5 July 2017 by HMIC Police and the CPS argues lessons need to be learnt about the impact of stalking on victims.
The report also said not enough is understood or being done to protect victims and prevent perpetrators of stalking carrying out their harmful crimes. Stalking impacts the workplace in the following ways:

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will experience stalking in their lifetime
• 79% of perpetrators will use workplace resources to target their victim
• 50% of stalking victims have curtailed or stopped work due to stalking
• 53% of employed women missing at least three days of work per month due to domestic abuse or stalking
• Domestic abuse and stalking costs UK businesses more than £2.3bn per year
The workplace is identified as a high-risk environment for victims of stalking. The evidence for this is supported by high profile cases such as

• Dr. Ellie Aston – stalked by a patient
• Shana Grice – met her stalker at work and was killed in her home
• Hollie Gazzard – stalked by an ex-partner and killed at work in a beauty salon

This won’t ever happen to us, we confidently say. Unfortunately, it can and has life-changing, devastating effects when it does. 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!

A perpetrator of domestic abuse who uses coercive control is more likely to stalk. This behaviour is often triggered when a relationship ends. A stalker does not respect another person’s boundaries – the workplace will not deter them.

If a person finally finds the courage and means to end a relationship that is when the stalker is at their most dangerous and the victim is most vulnerable. 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.” When you consider a victim will suffer 100 incidences of stalking before they finally report it, what they really want to say is, “Help me! I’m terrified!” You could ring the Police, but as their report has identified, they need training on this subject too so you may not get the response you expected.

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and staff and need to be fully aware of the nature and impact of domestic abuse and stalking, on an individual and the business. What you can do as an employer is
• Believe them!
• Don’t judge
• Have compassion
• Report it immediately
• Keep evidence and a diary of incidences

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.

To find out more attend our Wellbeing in the workplace training event by following this link –

For further information and how to access CPD Accredited Training on The Impact of Domestic Abuse and Stalking in the Workplace, please follow link to:


Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Services Raising The Bar: Best Practices on Stalking Cases Conference 2017.
Exploring the relationship between stalking and homicide, J. Monckton-Smith, K. Szymanska and S. Haile, University of Gloucestershire, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 2017.