Updated: Dec 6, 2022
IF BIG BROTHER IS NOT WATCHING YOU, WHO IS?
How do we go about stopping people from being abused, threatened or assaulted during meetings or therapy sessions in their own homes!
During this past week, I have sadly read about people being sexually assaulted when they were expecting to receive therapy support and while attending business meetings. Some of these assaults have taken place in their own homes!
What measures are we really taking prior to, during or towards the end of a therapy session/ meeting to ensure that not only do we feel safe, but we are able to raise concerns? In other words, if you do not feel confident and comfortable enough to talk your way out of a concerning situation, then what process do you have in place to:
- Raise the alarm; about the concerns for your personal safety
- How are you going to do this?
- Who are you expecting to answer your alarm call?
- What are you expecting them to do
Until a range of committees, regulatory bodies, organisations, sector workplaces and community groups are able to lobby the government to introduce regulations in order to address this issue successfully your employer (or family member/friend) needs to be aware of your movements. This is of particular importance if you are meeting or visiting someone for the first time in their home/workplace/your home!
Antecedent… Pre-meeting checks!
Here is a quick set of questions you can check with yourself,
● What do you know about the person you are meeting, particularly if it is a first-time face-2-face meeting?
● What company do they work for?
● Have you found them on the internet “about us” page or other information about the company, and the person you are going to meet?
● Do you have their contact details, and have you confirmed they are correct?
● Are they registered or hold a licence to practice through a reputable regulatory/awarding body?
● If the meeting/therapy session is not in your home, are you happy in knowing the location where the meeting/therapy session is going to take place?
● In addition to the location finder on your mobile phone, do you have a ‘personal safety’ alarm app downloaded on to your phone?
● Finally, for now, who knows where, when and how the meeting/therapy session is going to take place; what are the expected start and finish times?
During the meeting/immediately before
Allow yourself some time before your meeting/therapy session like 5 to 15 minutes, to contact someone (ie; known as your point-of-contact) to let them know about your forthcoming meeting/therapy session.
‘I often speak with people who at this point don’t want to disturb anyone or put them out. Also, people who feel very confident about their meeting/therapy session, and some people who feel that they do not want someone watching over them (ie; big brother controlling their movements.’
Be assured this is about ‘empowering’ everyone to feel confident that if things don’t go well, they will ‘do the right thing’ towards maintaining their safety!
Now that you are in their home/your own home and before you start your meeting/therapy session,
● Do you really feel comfortable with the task, location and situation you are in?
● If not, how are you going to leave/remove yourself from the situation?
● What if you are concerned about your safety in your own home?
There could be a combination of factors that make you feel uncomfortable or concerned for your personal safety; how close the person may be to you (ie; their presence/body language… non-verbal communication), or what and how they are saying to you (ie; their tone of voice…verbal communication).
How are you going to raise the alarm, particularly if you do not want them to know you are concerned or scared for your safety?
● Have you pre-arranged for a call from your point of contact about 2-5 minutes into your meeting/therapy session?
● Are you able to trigger the App on your phone to raise the alarm?
● Do you have a coded message system in place which is known to both you and your point of contact?
Here is a tip for you to make some space and time for yourself,
You could incorporate the use of a ‘notional’ conversation, you are talking about something that does not exist. For example, you mention for them to check information in the ‘red’ folder or ‘green’ cabinet, but neither of these items exists.
Importantly the person on the end of the phone knows you need help and support! Having introduced the coded message into the communication, now what (a third person is aware of the situation and therefore):
- The continued call could be enough to get you out of the property or them out of your home.
- The call has now made you feel empowered to continue with the meeting because you know that you are going to receive further calls from your point of contact until such time as the meeting is over
- If neither of the above is happening, it could be that you continue the national conversation and the point-of-contact has arranged for someone to travel to your meeting/therapy point, and/or called them to go to you.
You have left the meeting in one of the ways highlighted above but the fact that you felt that concerned for your safety that you had to raise the alarm. This will almost certainly mean that you have had quick or slow releases of adrenalin into your body. When you felt fear regarding the danger you anticipated, your body starts to or goes going into ‘flight or fight’ mode. Wwanting to leave the situation you were in. Most importantly we ideally do not want to go into freeze mode – you did not fear the level of threat and/or danger you found yourself in, and your brain is struggling to process what is happening around you. The body can subconsciously or consciously go into flight, fight or freeze mode!
Let’s finish on a positive note. The meeting/therapy session has gone well but due to general and jovial chatter that took place your meeting/therapy session has overrun by 5 minutes. You should now be receiving a call, as prior to your meeting/therapy session starting you told your point-of-contact how long you expected things to last. You can confidently inform them that everything is fine, and let them know you will call them back, shortly, when the meeting/therapy session finishes.
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