Talking about Domestic Violence at work

This week’s episode of the Diverse Minds podcast is all about 16 Days of Action against gender-based violence. This includes domestic and sexual violence. The 16 days span from 25th November to 10th December.

This week we are focusing on domestic violence and sexual abuse and how to support survivors who may need support from their workplace.  It’s a 2-part episode, in which, Katie Russell, Media and Comms Co-ordinator at Rape Crisis England and Wales and Harriet Smailes a volunteer at a Rape Crisis Centre join me on the show. 

The 16 days of action were started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. 

This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”, a topic that can feel like a taboo subject to talk about, especially at work. 

All businesses and workplaces have a legal obligation to assess dynamic risk, as well as support the health and safety and wellness of their employees. Organisations can train everyone to recognise the signs, support those who experience and who witness domestic violence. Thus creating a culture where it’s ok to talk about domestic violence. 

Listen to the episode

If you enjoyed this episode, then consider subscribing on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you access your podcasts from.

About my guests

Katie is a freelance writer, feminist activist and national spokesperson for the charity Rape Crisis England & Wales.

She’s worked and volunteered in the Rape Crisis movement for the last 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded Support After Rape & Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL), where she remains an active Trustee. She has recently joined the Board of Leeds-based charity Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS).

As a specialist in sexual violence and abuse, Katie has been published in the Guardian, Telegraph and The Pool and appeared on BBC Breakfast, Woman’s Hour and the Today programme, among others. She is currently working on her first novel.

Harriet Smailes is a Sexual Violence Case Manager and a volunteer support worker at Leicester Rape Crisis, Jasmine House.

Talking about Domestic Violence at work With Katie Russell and Harriet Smailes.

In today’s show, we talk about:

  • Some statistics about domestic and sexual violence [01:52]
  • What the 16 Days of Action mean to Katie [03:55]
  • Why domestic violence issues are still taboo [06:15]
  • The difference between domestic and sexual violence [09:59]
  • How you can identify when a colleague might be experiencing domestic and sexual violence [14:58]
  • Tips and ideas that workplaces can do for the 16 Days of Action [24:32]
  • Katie’s advice and tips on how employers can create domestic violence policy for their workplace. [28:53]
  • Harriet’s interview begins [38:50]
  • Experiencing volunteering at a Rape Crisis Centre [42:41]
  • How you can get involved as a volunteer [45:30]
  • The benefits of volunteering in a Rape Crisis Centre [47:38]
  • What everyone can do raise awareness of domestic and sexual violence [49:10]

Some statistics about Domestic Violence:

  • 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence during their adult lifetimes.
  • 58% of women experiencing abuse miss at least three days of work per month.
  • 2% of women will lose their jobs as a result of domestic violence.
  • 5% of men experienced domestic violence in England and Wales last year.
  • 75% of people who experience domestic violence will be targeted at work. 
  • The annual costs to companies are thought to be around £2 billion.

 Helpful resources I mentioned in this episode:


  • It’s important to try not to be too pushy, but at the same time not turn a blind eye and behave as if everything is normal when you know that it’s not. 
  • Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m here to listen.
  • Sadly, every single one of us knows someone who’s experienced sexual violence.
  • Until it happens to us, frankly, it’s impossible to know how one individual will feel or want to respond to any specific event of sexual violence or abuse.
  • Never judge someone’s actions or ask why they didn’t say no. They may have done or they may not have been in a position to do so.

Connect with my guest:

Work with me

Want to improve your workplace culture and enable people to find career happiness in your organisation? Then find out more about what I do here, email me at or book a time so that we can chat about what could work for you.

Subscribe to the podcast

If you enjoyed this episode, then consider subscribing on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you access your podcasts from. 

You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Remember to tune in to next week’s episode, where I’ll bring you more insights into mental health and inclusion.

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