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Breaking the Silence: Professional woman at work, battered woman at home


Sometimes it’s easier to tell when a woman of lesser means is being abused, because the signs are quite visible; but when she moves up higher in her career and becomes more educated, it can be near impossible to tell, as she often does everything in her power to disguise the verbal, physical and emotional abuse which is taking place.{{more}} She has an image to keep up, and exposure of her situation seems more devastating than revealing she is in danger. It’s time to break that silence and speak up.

For a small island, St Vincent has a disproportionate number of crimes against women, which is recognized as such in the international community, and many incidents are not even reported. This is a shameful badge to wear. You may see the evidence of a battered woman walking right in front of your doorstep or your desk. It might even be you. How does one not bring all that baggage into the workplace? It’s virtually impossible. For a woman in this position, staying focused when your life and family are at stake is a herculean task.

A woman who is battered at home may often be one of the company stars, as that may be the only place where she feels valued, appreciated and recognized. Another might be the company bully, as she may be using her power on the job to assert herself, but in so doing, she becomes the abuser in a professional environment.

Regardless of how she responds, the violence must stop, and it begins with awareness. It will take a community to make a difference.

1. Companies can build a partnership with local agencies that serve battered women and create a confidential system where women can seek help. That may be difficult in a small community like SVG, but it is possible if we refuse to spread gossip about people who may be seeking help.

2. As a co-worker, you may never know, but if you see obvious signs of abuse, take the time to speak encouraging words to that person and offer support. Your assistance may be refused, but at least that person knows she has an ally when she needs it. Walking away from an abusive relationship is a complicated matter for some people, so do not judge.

3. If you are a man, help your friends who abuse women see that what they are doing is wrong and actually a sign of being a weak man. If you sit around drinking and laughing at your friend’s stories of what he did to his partner the night before, you are just as guilty, as you are providing the abuser an audience to puff himself up and brag about his behaviour.

4. If you are being abused, please know it is not your fault, regardless of what your abuser says. Even if you did not cook a good meal, come home on time or take care of the kids, no one deserves to be battered. It is by no means a demonstration of his love for you. It’s actually proof that he is a troubled man with problems of his own, and no amount of love or intimate relationship with him can fix that. Get support. There are always other progressive women around who can be your support. Look carefully and choose wisely for those women who will be there to hold your hand as you push your way forward. You are not alone and you will succeed.

The United Nations recently launched their orange campaign to end violence again women. On the 25th of every month, starting this past Wednesday, July 25, people globally are encouraged to wear orange in support of ending this senseless behaviour. Wear your orange next month and do your part daily to help women live in peace.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to [email protected]
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