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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls

25 Nov 2019

Press Office

Press Office

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When I was asked if I wanted to get involved in campaigning around domestic abuse with GMB, I was a little hesitant initially due to the fact that at the time I was so vulnerable. After sleeping on it, I knew it was something I had to do to support other people going through what I went through. I had to let survivors know that there was light at the end of the tunnel, but more importantly to instil confidence that they could overcome this. I wanted to give survivors like me, a sense of hope.

The charter was created to ensure that workers experiencing domestic abuse don’t experience discrimination in the workplace or worse, job losses. The charter commits  employers to training all managers to be able to give practical support and signposting to workers experiencing domestic abuse, sensitively and appropriately.

When I was invited to speak at Parliament to aid lobbying the campaign, on the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls - it was such a surreal moment. I remember plodding through security and going down an escalator to a completely different world. A world of politicians where decisions about our country are made. It gave me this surge of energy, to ensure that my purpose here, to fight for survivors like me by making the charter a success, was signed sealed and delivered.

A year ago today, myself and Other GMB activist survivors shared our truth, that we were survivors of Domestic Abuse and how much the charter meant to us, what a real difference it could have made to our lives at the time of our struggle.

Unfortunately, only a limited number of MP's attended because Theresa May had decided to call another meeting to discuss the gruelling issue of Brexit.

Nonetheless we proceeded and before we could finish, MP's were signing the charter. MPs Stephanie Peacock, who chaired the meeting, and Harriet Harman were extremely supportive and told us what a difference hearing GMB activists experiences had made to their understanding of the issue. They took the charter to the Speaker the very next day. Within 48 hours over 50 MP's had signed the Charter as employers, which was such an amazing feeling.

Since it's launch a number of employers have signed our charter and supporting workers experiencing domestic abuse, with many more coming forward to sign up!

So far a number of employers have signed the charter and supporting workers experiencing domestic abuse, with many more employers coming forward to sign in the next few months – watch this space!

Being part of this campaign has made me feel so empowered, given me confidence but more importantly has shown me that I'm not alone. Domestic abuse be incredibly isolating and make you feel that you have nowhere to turn to.

My union uplifted me in so many ways. I was hopeless and on the verge of giving up but with the GMB taking me under their wing, not judging me, but instead being understanding and empathetic, made a such a significant difference for me. My confidence was restored and has now enabled me to support my members as a rep, even better.

I am now not afraid to share my story. I'm not embarrassed by it, but in fact grateful for the knowledge I gained through that horrific experience - because without it I wouldn't be able help others. My experience has given me the empathy, understanding and knowledge of how to support members who experience this and to campaign to stop domestic abuse for good.  

More recently, I supported a member who, due to experiencing violence from their manager, became suicidal, felt they had no way out. After being able to support them and share parts of my story, the member told me, that I had actually saved their life and that they now had a sense of hope. That's the difference’s that being part of a union makes to so many members lives.

Workers experiencing domestic abuse need to know that they will be believed and supported by their employer and that’s what the GMB work to Stop Domestic Abuse employer charter sets out to do. I’m so proud to be a part of it and to have used my voice and experience to make a difference.

 

Charlaine Nkum, GMB Activist, Southern Region

For more information on GMB’s Work to Stop Domestic Abuse Employer Charter and policy please click here

 
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