40% of people don't know how to help work colleagues experiencing domestic abuse

Thursday 2nd September 2021:

Two out of five employees (40%) would not know how to help a work colleague who they suspected was experiencing domestic abuse, according to crisis charity Hestia. As employees across the UK head back to the office, the charity is urging people to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and how to offer support, especially as many victims have been trapped at home with their abuser.

The survey of 2,000 people across the UK, was carried out by research company Opinium on behalf of the charity and revealed that less than half of the British workforce (46%) would feel confident in helping a work colleague who was experiencing abuse.

Hestia has released five top tips to support employees and businesses in the weeks ahead and are also offering free access to a support line for employers, ‘Respond to Abuse’, so that everyone knows how to support someone who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

The five simple tips include:

  1. Download Bright Sky to access advice and information quickly.
  2. Ask the person if everything is okay at home in a private space.
  3. Believe the victim if they disclose and tell them support is available.
  4. Agree a plan if the perpetrator visits or contacts the staff member through work channels.
  5. Let them know work is a safe place and they will be supported.

Hestia, one of the largest domestic abuse refuge providers in London, witnessed the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on victims, as support networks were cut off overnight and abuse escalated. Between March 2020 and June 2021, there were over 45,000 downloads of Hestia’s free domestic abuse app Bright Sky in partnership with Vodafone Foundation, as the charity saw a 30 per cent increase in demand for support. 

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive at Hestia, said:

“Domestic abuse has become a national conversation during the lockdown. For many, working from home has not been safe and the pandemic isolated victims leaving them unable to get support at the school gates or with colleagues in the office. Now, as we return to some normality and business reopen their offices, there must be a greater effor by employers to ensure staff have access to vital support.

Not knowing how to start a conversation with a work colleague who may be experiencing domestic abuse is often the most common reason people give for not acting. We need to ensure everyone has the tools they need to spot signs of domestic abuse, respond, and help someone find a safe route to support. By simply downloading Bright Sky onto our phone, we can all play our part in ending domestic abuse.”

Jasmin*, a survivor of domestic abuse, said:

“When someone tells you that they're experiencing domestic abuse, being able to show them where and how to get support is so important. Listening to someone and believing their experiences is vital. At first, I wasn't believed. I know that disbelief can stop people reaching out for help again.
Bright Sky provides practical ways that you can help as a friend or family member, including taking the time to listen to what they want. Having the app on your phone is such a simple step and it could save someone's life.”

Nikki Ross, CEO of Thames Valle Partnership: 

“Thames Valley Partnership are immensely proud to contribute to Bright Sky's continued development and success. Through our frontline service and technological safeguarding solutions we have seen the immense impact the pandemic has had on victims, especially those isolated at home. As the world continues to readjust into a 'new normal', it's critical that employers feel confidently equipped to support domestic abuse victims. It can be hard to know where to start, but by downloading Bright Sky everyone can take that first step towards helping to end domestic abuse and save lives.



Notes to editors:

  • Full case study available on request
  • Respond to Abuse Advice Line: Employers who are seeking advice can call 07770480437 or 0203 8793695 or email [email protected]between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday for support.
  • Opinium conducted this research with a national representative figure of 2001 people between the 17th and 20th August.
  • Two in five (40%) Brits say they are not confident they’ll know how to help if they suspected a work colleague was experiencing domestic abuse, with 7% saying they are not at all confident. This is in comparison to less than half (46%) who say they are confident, while 14% don’t know.
  • Younger Brits are more likely to be confident (51% of 18-34s) compared to older generations (38% of over 55s).
  • Those in West Midlands are also amongst those who are more likely to be confident (51%).


About Hestia:   

Hestia is one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London and the South East and is the main organisation supporting victims of modern slavery in the capital. It is the home of domestic abuse and sexual violence campaign UK SAYS NO MORE, which launched Safe Spaces in over 3,600 pharmacies and TSB bank branches nationwide. In 2020, Hestia celebrated 50 years of providing a life beyond crisis to adults and children by providing safehouses, refuge accommodation and support.  

Hestia developed Bright Sky with support from Vodafone Foundation and Thames Valley Partnership to provide easy to access information for those concerned about domestic abuse. The app hosts a UK-wide directory of specialist support services and offers users assessment tools to help you spot the signs for someone experiencing domestic abuse and has had over 80,000 downloads since launch.   


Thames Valley Partnership:  

Bright Sky is also supported by Thames Valley Partnership, a charity of over 26 years who specialise in the provision of long-term solutions to crime and social exclusion, as well as a number of services to support victims of crime. Thames Valley Partnership plays a key role in the growing success of Bright Sky, working alongside Hestia on Bright Sky UK, and leading the global roll out of the Bright Sky App. By April 2021, supported by the Vodafone Foundation, Bright Sky will be available in 10 countries world-wide.  

Alongside our front-facing services and Bright Sky, Thames Valley Partnership manages the not-for-profit TecSOS project. The TecSOS (Technical SOS) wider programme offers a suite of tools and devices to both support and protect survivors of abuse.  


Vodafone Foundation:   

Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1089625) believes the power of connectivity can change lives and address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Founded in 1991 with a simple mission to invest in the communities in which Vodafone operates, today the charity connects people and ideas with technology and funding, to help those already doing good work to achieve results faster, more cost effectively and with a bigger social impact. Through a strategy of Connecting for Good, Vodafone Group PLC’s philanthropic arm works in partnership with other charitable organisations and NGOs to create solutions that bring about long-term sustainable change and improve 480m lives by 2025. Technology and connectivity are essential tools to support survivors of domestic violence and abuse, helping to provide a safe route to help and even saving lives; Vodafone Foundation have connected over 1.3m people affected by abuse to information, advice and support through a portfolio of Apps Against Abuse including the Bright Sky app, which they continue to support the development of in the UK and internationally.