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Work. domestic abuse. Advice needed. Please.

July 28, 2007
by

Scotty has been signed off for another three weeks now. Found that out on Thursday.

It’s so hard. There’s lots of information. My head is reeling from this. Little bits have come to light from various sources over the last few days.

I heard from Snippy that while I was on maternity leave, it was not unusual for Scotty to come in with very visual evidence of physical abuse. ‘face smashed in’ was the term used. Snippy won’t even talk to Scotty about her husband anymore apparently because ‘she knows not to [talk to me about T]. He’s an evil man’.

***The trouble with many victims of this as Snippy has experienced, (I have prior experience with others) is that they will happily come in one day and spill their guts about the truth of what’s happening to them, say they’re leaving, they’re splitting up, they’ve had enough… but then come in the next day and say that everything is sorted and there’s nothing to worry about’.

How can you help someone who only admits there’s a problem 30% of the time? How do they not understand that once you know facts you can’t just oretend you don’t know***

Apparently it’s common knowledge to everyone in the branch, except for me, for her to have very open fights in public & daylight, (verbal ones not physical) I only found this out yesterday. She’ll come into work shaken and distressed etc. (I work in a separate office sometimes, out on client visits and have had annual leave etc.) According to First Girl, she can’t believe that I’ve missed them all by coincidence.

She came to work at some point in May with a massive bruise to the face and claimed that she had been elbowed by a bloke during a small fight near her in a nightclub or pub or something over the weekend.

By this point I had guessed that the Scotty and T relationship was not all it appeared to be. I’m not a moron. All the signs are there and I cottoned on. I’ve been through this with two friends in the past already.

But neither of them had kids.

I’m very torn about what to do ..

***

Facts.

1. I know that he physically abuses her in front of their children. Or at least have had reports from members of staff that this is the case. The girl who worked with them over my mat leave had a friend that lived next door to them. She was visited by their little boy during one of their fights once. He ran next door asking for help saying that daddy was trying to kill mummy.

Heartbreaking.

2. I know that they have a very fiery relationship. She’s told us this and I can see that for myself anyway. Red hot perfect one day and then she’s obviously down the next day or comes to work complaining they’ve had a row. But not just rows. ‘He ripped his wedding ring off and threw it at my head during the argument but when it hit me, he immediately apologised…’ etc etc. (This is one tamer one that I have been told by her)

3. She has had bruises that I have seen that she has claimed to me have been a result of accidents but that she has admitted to staff have been a result of T’s abusive behaviour.

4. T tells his kids that she’s a bad mother and that she neglects them (the kids). That her job is more important to her and that she doesn’t care about them. (She has told me this after a row I witnessed over the phone at work).

***

Apparently she doesn’t want to tell me (according to staff) because she’s embarrassed… I’m the manager. None of my staff are willing to be ‘the one that told me’ because they are worried about ‘becoming involved’

***

I am frightened of intervening for fear of consequences for her and her children.

All sorts of scenarios have run through my mind. Anonymous call to the police. But will he assume she’s been talking anyway and then attack her as a result?

Make an anonymous call but say that I’ve heard violence. But then will that cause repercussions for their next door neighbours? Physically or otherwise?

Try and talk to Scotty and tell her that I know and that I want to help? She denies it all and accuses me of interfering..? Ends up falling out with friends at work as a result and then has no one?

Confront them both? About my concerns for the children. Threaten to call Police? Obvious consequences behind closed doors. Not a smart option.

***

The trouble is that her work has suffered (as a result of this, I think) which has had consequences for her. She is currently signed of for anxiety and depression. But because it has affected her ability to do her job, there has been serious complaints at work, which I have to progress.

She left me a voice-mail saying that T was going to come in with the sick-note because she really didn’t feel like seeing anyone at the moment.

The thought has kept coming back to me ‘she doesn’t want to see anyone, or doesn’t want anyone to see her?’

Has something happened to her? Am I just sitting back doing nothing?

I have toyed with the idea of visiting her house when I know she’s at home alone (T works in a shop in town – so it’s easy to check). The trouble is, I can’t do this without for of it looking like I’m harassing her to come back to work. I have to tread carefully with respect to rules and regs involved regarding employment.

I can’t ask one of the staff to do it. That’s clearly unfair.

***

I have wondered if this is what happens to them as a family. When I think about the details I know.

They lived in Edinburgh. They loved it but moved to London. They lived and worked in London and Scotty worked for an airline but they moved to Lincoln.

Is this what makes them move? Does he get found out and they have to leave?

***

She took all of her possessions home with her the night before she got signed off sick for the first week. Her desk is cleared out and she took home all the Christmas presents she was storing for her daughter, so I’m kind of assuming the sickness was premeditated and that she’s never coming back.

I’m wondering if they’ll disappear into the fog and we’ll never hear of her again.

And then will I always think I should have done something?

***

I can’t stop thinking of her 7 year old boy and 4 year old girl. These children don’t deserve this. She doesn’t deserve this. But I am so stuck.

I am genuinely asking for advice from anyone out there. I have 70 odd returning visitors every day to this blog … … … do any of you have experience of this or have any advice? Tried and tested or theoretical?

I want to help this family without putting anyone in danger.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. fluttercrafts permalink
    July 28, 2007 5:43 pm

    There are kids involved, call the authorities, period.

  2. carolynhojo permalink
    July 30, 2007 3:37 pm

    Crap! I really couldn’t advise you on this one. I guess all I would do is let her know I am there for her, but as an employer you must tread very carefully, if he is manipulative then he may look for signs of you doing something wrong to deflect attention off him. As far as the family goes, I have never been put in this situation and would hesitate to put an opinion out in the public domain but am easy to email if you like

    xc

  3. Mrs Hojo permalink
    July 30, 2007 3:37 pm

    Crap! I really couldn’t advise you on this one. I guess all I would do is let her know I am there for her, but as an employer you must tread very carefully, if he is manipulative then he may look for signs of you doing something wrong to deflect attention off him. As far as the family goes, I have never been put in this situation and would hesitate to put an opinion out in the public domain but am easy to email if you like

    xc

  4. August 1, 2007 8:22 am

    What an awful, awful situation. I tend to lean toward what fluttercrafts said, though. Because of the kids, I think I would call and report what I knew. Not what others have said necessarily, but what I knew firsthand. Poor kids. Heartbreaking.

  5. ceeej permalink
    August 3, 2007 12:43 am

    As a manager/employer you’re in a really prickly place with regard to checking up etc. on a person who’s on sick leave regardless of the circumstances. Apart from anything else, you may make a bad situation worse.

    Phone your local social services and domestic violence unit and have an initially off the record chat for guidance, then follow their advice or leave it in their hands to deal with.

    It’s not just your conscience, it’s two children’s lives.

    The final choice is hers as to whether she stays with him or not but the kids shouldn’t see and suffer that sort of abuse, no if’s but’s or maybe’s.

    She has a duty to look after her children and protect them, as does their father, if she can’t do that or isn’t willing to, then someone needs to before a bad situation turns into a tragedy.

  6. businessbackwards permalink
    August 8, 2007 1:19 pm

    I’ve got absolutely no idea, but my instinct would be that this is why you have an HR department and that they might be able to give you some advice.

    My second instinct would be that you can’t help this family; only the person being abused can help herself, if someone hauls her away, or coerces her into leaving, however well intentioned, she’ll go back and she’ll probably get a good kicking when she does. Because she’s not leaving because she thinks that is all she is worth and until she doesn’t think that, she’ll stay.

    I think the best you can do is try to be a friend – and that is where you need HR to give you some guidelines as to what form you can risk that taking.

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