Spending a bit more time at home has allowed me the indulgence of watching the odd bit of daytime television, some of it being quite interesting and helpful. I have just watched part of a programme that has informed me that supermarkets have turned their attention to helping those who are in an abusive relationship of some description.
Agencies who offer support to DVA victims have told us that there has been a huge increase in calls to helplines and requests for aid in the months since Covid-19 and it would appear now that the large supermarkets are trying to find ways to assist their customers who might be suffering abuse.
In several of the big supermarket stores, staff have been trained to recognise a code word which, when said by a customer, alerts them to the fact that the customer is being abused and needs to be taken to a safe place so they can call an appropriate agency. The member of staff then ensures that the customer is directed to the allocated room where they can make that call.
The panellists on this tv show received this idea with some ambivalence. They felt the idea was commendable but in practice, it could be more difficult. Firstly, the notion of disclosing to a complete stranger that you are being abused, by the use of a code word, would mean getting past the shame and embarrassment most victims feel when talking about an abusive relationship. Part of the nature of an abusive relationship is about suggesting to the target that the treatment they receive is their fault, so somehow they take on responsibility.
Some of those suffering coercion and control are so filled with self-disgust that they have allowed themselves to get in to this situation, they find it almost impossible to speak to others about it.
The supermarket staff would need to handle any request for help confidentially, discreetly and sensitively ensuring that little attention from other shoppers is brought to the customer, who no doubt will be feeling uneasy and vulnerable.
Tesco have printed a DVA Helpline number on the bottom of their receipts, which can be helpful but it relies on the victim finding a way to call the number.
Personally, I believe the more avenues of help accessible to those suffering abuse the better. That first step to getting support will always be a difficult one, but once an escape route is identified, confidence can grow that there is a way forward that can lead to safety.
When leaving an abusive relationship please do make sure safety measures are undertaken and a support network is in place.
The Brethertons team are happy to offer support and advice to those wanting to end an abusive relationship please call 01788 557587 for further information. For emotional support and advice contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org