Staying connected to stay safe
Toxic and controlling romantic relationships often include isolating the person from their friends and family. Staying connected to family, friends, your community and your workplace are all important ways to protect yourself, avoid isolation, make new friends and maintain a healthy wellbeing.
Connections come in all shapes and forms; from your neighbours, at your shops, in your faith community, and from volunteering and paid or community work.
Children can also create community and connections. For example, playgroups are a great way to informally meet other parents and help your child's social development.
There are lots of things to get involved with at your child’s school, including:
Listening to reading
You can also consider taking up a volunteer role in local kids sport as an organiser or canteen helper.
If you are not working now but want to get back into the workforce, study and volunteering can provide similar benefits to work while also building valuable skills and contacts that can lead to paid employment.
Remember that volunteering opportunities can be easier to access than you think. For example, local community organisations like Meals on Wheels, your local community centre and Aged Care centres are often looking for volunteers to help run social activities.
If you want to know more, get in touch with Volunteering Queensland or search for your local community centres and say hello!
Another option is offering your assistance in local community events. If you’re interested in this, do an online search for community events in your area and get in touch with them.
If you are working, then your work can become a safe place outside of the home. Your workplace may also have policies to support you if you are experiencing domestic and family violence such as paid leave and access to phones, photocopiers and computers.
Most educational institutions, like universities, Tafes and schools, have a Student Services Unit. Here you will find a wide range of resources, information and support to assist you with work, housing, health and safety.
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How can my workplace help?
Economic security is very important when someone is looking to leave an unsafe situation. Your workplace can be a source of support and opportunity for you. Your work and career are important resources for your future wellbeing.
Your workplace may also have tools and resources to help you. These can include:
Designated paid domestic and family violence leave
Domestic and family violence policies
Flexible work opportunities in compliance with the Fair Work Act
Safety planning procedures
Awareness training for all staff and training for Human Resources and Line Managers on how to respond
Policies to protect you from being harassed at work by phone, text, email or fax
There may be a free counselling service available – this is generally called an Employee Assistance Program
If you feel safe enough to tell someone at work that you are experiencing domestic and family violence, that is a good thing! Do not feel embarrassed or afraid. Your workplace can be a place that can support you.
Expect some of the following things in response:
They might ask about your safety to assess whether critical and immediate steps need to be taken, such as calling the police.
They might offer you information about where you can obtain professional guidance, such as local support services. Remember to have a look at the services and organisations that can be found here.
They should not tell you what to do, or offer to intervene on your behalf.
Ensure that you know your rights with regards to workplace health and safety. You should ask your workplace if they have any relevant policies and procedures in place – some of the things you can ask about include:
Flexible work arrangements
Safety measures and what needs to be changed/implemented to ensure your safety at work
Confidentiality and privacy measures
Record-keeping of incidents that could occur at work
Your workplace may have an individual risk assessment and safety plan. If they do, this will inform decisions about how to manage your employment.
If you are in a situation where you are already having your control and agency taken from you, it is important that the workplace avoids adding to this – even unintentionally. Speak up if you feel this is happening.
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There are some things you can do for your wellbeing every day. They may seem simple but they can help reduce anxiety and maintain wellness.
Connect to people and talk about your situation with those you trust and have supportive relationships with.
Engage in some physical activity. This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, or walking to talk to someone rather than emailing them.
Find things that YOU enjoy that help you unwind. Go for a walk, clear your mind with some yoga stretches – maybe you are even lucky enough to have a gym or a swimming pool nearby that you could use in your lunch break. Any physical activity can help relieve mental stress.
Take notice of the things around you and reflect on what matters to you.
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But I don’t really have any work or volunteer skills?
If you haven’t worked for some time, and you have had many personal challenges, it is easy to tell yourself that you have no work skills. STOP.
You have many skills, and you need to rediscover these. Work experience is only one way to gain skills and knowledge. Some skills will come with your innate personality, some from your education, and some from your experience running a home, ensuring kids engage with their education, and caring for children, family and neighbours.
Try this checklist to help you identify your employable skills.