|Photo Credit: Pinterest post of Office Clothes by Mercedes McCurdy|
|Photo Credit: Pinterest post of Suncreeen by Mary Bowles|
What are 5 Signs that a Woman May Be Escaping Domestic Abuse?
1. Brushing her teeth in the office bathroom
2. Inconsistent grooming
4. Overfilled purse
5. Wrong-size shoes
You may be surprised to learn that many women who flee domestic abuse still go to work as usual.
Be on the lookout, SmartyGirl Readers, for signs. When you notice the 5 changes above, be discreet.
Remember every woman deserves kindness and respect. According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, the immediate cause of homeless for most women is domestic abuse.
Calling out her recent homelessness might make her vulnerable to tears at work when she’s trying hard to maintain routine. Imagine yourself in her place. You would try hard not to allow your homelife to negatively affect your work performance. In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 million of the homeless in California were women.
A woman escaping violence at home may also be fleeing financial abuse. Abusers sometimes sabotage a woman’s job by calling her at work constantly or preventing her from making career choices, says HelpGuide.org.
What are 5 Discreet Things You Can Do to Make a Big Impact for a Domestic Abuse Survivor?
1. Offer freshly-laundered or dry cleaned work attire in gift bag. Do this exchange at a private lunch (your treat) in a festive gift bag. Be tactful. If you don’t know the woman coworker well, skip this gift-giving. If you are somewhat chummy, just remark on something positive such as: “I noticed you’ve lost so much weight! This blazer was so cute I didn’t want to give it up but it doesn’t fit me. You are my friend. Will you accept it as a gift?”
Allow the friend to refuse. Maybe it isn’t her color. Maybe it doesn’t suit her personal sense of style. Just the fact that you offered, empowers the fellow SmartyGirl escaping domestic violence. You are giving her options and you are respecting her choice to say yes or no. This is significant because women in abusive relationships often were not heard. You can read more about healthy communication such as validation communication on PsychCentral.
2. Keep the cosmetic gifts tiny and personalized. Nothing is more offensive than receiving mint gum, deodorant, travel soap and toothpaste unexpectedly.
It’s announcing that the intended recipient smells bad. Instead prepare the soil for this 2-part discreet gift giving. On one day, at the beginning of the week, ask your coworker what her favorite flower or scent is. Then towards the end of the following week. Drop a small cosmetic item with that scent at her desk with a smiley post it that reads: Just Because. No other explanation. You’ll see your friend blossom at this small gesture. You are tending the garden of your fellow SmartyGirl’s heart.
|Photo Credit: Lilac by AudryJM529|
If you are looking for a place to shop for cosmetics for the same cause, you can read more about Macy’s Shop for a Cause and their partnership with the nonprofit formerly called Futures Without Violence.
Warning: be careful about sexual harassment rules at your workplace and do not do any gift-giving that violates such roles or suggests a romantic overture. If she asks, you can tell her the truth, that you are reading a book by Barbara Mouser called Five Aspects of Woman and you feel like encouraging another gal just because.
|Photo Credit: Pinterest Post of Flats by Lori Macias|
3. Talk about skin care. Strike up a light conversation about sunscreen that you’ve tried and hated. Ask your coworker what brands work for her. Does CopperTone make your skin itch? Do you prefer the smell of Banana Boat? The homeless experience more sun exposure and more skin problems says the Department of Dermatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
When someone flees an abusive home, she may be spending a lot of time out of doors and under the sun. The sun is unmerciful and can make a woman’s face look weather-beaten within 2 weeks. Sunscreen can save her skin from this damage. Do you want to help?
Save your friend’s dignity by smearing a bit of travel size sunscreen on your own hands. You can make a display of this over the course of a few days.
Mutter to yourself that it prevents “liver spots”. You may be in your twenties and it may be cloudy and pouring rain. Alter this so it makes sense. Have a sense of humor too. But make sure you are the butt of your own jokes never your target SmartyGirl.
Then ask if your buddy minds taking the “extra” tubes you have handy. Warning: This may be perceived as sale-sy and might turn off some women because they think you’d taken a second job as a seller of cosmetics or sunscreen. Be creative. Think about how you’d present sunscreen so that it does not offend or push away the recipient.
4. Give reusable bags to more than one person in the office. To disguise your mission to boost your one coworker, give 2 or 3 resuable bags your purchased from a grocery store for a good cause such as Safeway to benefit Breast Cancer Research or Trader Joe’s for another purpose. Someone fleeing from the home of an abuser may need bags to separate her clean clothes from her soiled clothes in the trunk of her car.
She may also need bags to differentiate between food and cleaners. Give the coworker space. Do not stick around and watch her fill her trunk. Do not make any comment about the items in her car in the employee parking lot.
This will assist your friend in saving her office wear purse and professional appearance at work.
5. Offer new roll-up flats. You’ve seen these at drug stores and even some fancier car washes that have an indoor bookstore and lounge. Buy two of these. Complain about your work heels. Then five minutes before you leave the office for the day, just say that you have an extra pair of new roll up flats and ask if your coworker would like to have them. Just have them. Do not sell them. Do not make a big deal out of it and leave for the day. She is likely to be running low on clean socks and many resources for women such as Career Closets for homeless women have odd-sized shoes and are not the most comfortable.
Remember how you’d feel if you were fleeing domestic violence. Don’t think your coworker has somehow ditched her sense of dignity and strength. Empower her and make the work week less difficult by following these tips this month. Do not try to “smoke” her out. Do not address the issue of abuse unless she mentions she’d like to talk with someone. Do not play therapist. Be a pal but leave the counseling to trained professionals. Stand is one of many resources that can give your friend help when she is ready.