The SEIU-West Young Workers Committee (YWC) is shining a light on issues that often get pushed into the shadows and aims to break down stigma associated with important issues in our communities by interviewing experts in the field. In the last installment, the YWC shone a light on mental health. In this issue, YWC member Brittney interviews Andrea Howe from the United Way of Saskatoon about domestic violence.

Q: Why is there stigma associated with Domestic Violence (DV)?

A: Some reasons why stigma is often associated with DV are because individuals either do not understand the issue; are not educated about the issue; and/or believe it is a private issue.

Q: How does the stigma affect someone who is seeking help?

Some reasons why stigma could deter a woman from seeking help are she may be ashamed; be fearful about being judged; be afraid to be on her own; be afraid of losing her job; and/or not know what resources or supports are available to her.

Q: How do you help someone who discloses at work that they are a victim of Domestic Violence?

Your role is to show concern and offer support. Do not try to “fix” the situation. Below is a list of ways to assist if a co-worker discloses that she is a victim of DV:

  • Tell her you believe her and will support her
  • Suggest speaking with a union staff rep to talk about supports available
  • Be prepared with information about where to find help at work and in the community
  • Ensure she is included in all the decision-making and respect her decisions – even if you do not agree with her choices  

How can SEIU-West members help de-stigmatize DV?

SEIU-West members can help by:

  • Completing the two-day DV training offered by SEIU-West. Your union is the first union in Saskatchewan who has offered the two-day training to its members because this issue is important! Encourage other members to take the training too.
  • Starting the conversation – at work; at the kitchen table; at the gym – the more we talk about this issue, the less stigma will be attached to it
  • Continuing to advocate and lobby for better legislation for DV protections and entitlements
  • Bargaining for DV leave and supports into your collective agreement

Take action

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