Exclusive: Reaching out to staff experiencing domestic abuse could save lives, says ITV presenter

Ruth Dodsworth domestic saveEmployee Benefits Live 2023: Asking if people are okay and following a gut instinct could potentially save the life of someone experiencing domestic violence, according to Ruth Dodsworth, TV presenter and journalist at ITV Cymru, Wales.

Speaking in a keynote session titled A survivor’s escape from domestic violence – the signs, symptoms and how to help, Dodsworth explained that her work around supporting those affected by domestic abuse is driven by her former 20-year relationship, in which she experienced coercive control, had no access to money or help and was stripped of her sense of self.

“One in three women and one in five men will be affected by domestic abuse. There is no stereotype, it could be anyone and is hard to define and recognise,” Dodsworth said.

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In terms of how to recognise signs of domestic abuse in colleagues, she suggested looking out for changes in appearance, such as weight, hair and nails loss, someone wearing long sleeves in hot weather, a loss of concentration, increased stress levels and a partner turning up unannounced at work. Payroll and pensions departments should also look out for any anomalies or odd payments.

Dodsworth explained that initially ITV did not know how to help her and that they learned together how to move forwards in terms of ongoing support. She suggested offering resources such as helplines, and extra annual leave days for moving and court cases.

“The more conversations we have about this, the more people will recognise the signs. Keeping an eye on people is important, as often the signs are in plain sight. Speaking up is not a weakness; we all need each other in terms of ongoing support and reassurance,” she said.

With hybrid or remote workers, Dodsworth said colleagues have a key role to play in noticing if something is not right, such as a reluctance to turn on the camera during calls or a dishevelled appearance if they do participate.

“Even if you have a niggling concern, don’t walk away from people. Read between the lines for any changes in behaviour and if you feel that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t,” Dodsworth concluded.