Brochures, info cards, and keychain lighters from Women's Advocates

Let’s Talk about Domestic Abuse 

by Maryjo Vickers, HR Director at Two Bettys

August 3, 2020

In recent months, Two Bettys has been thinking a lot about domestic and sexual abuse and violence.  While these forms of abuse are nothing new, the #metoo movement has encouraged a growing number of people to share their stories, both nationally and in the Twin Cities. Sadly, there are so many stories.  The CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men are victims of intimate partner violence each year.  Like so many women, I too have experienced domestic violence. 

There’s evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a spike in domestic violence worldwide.  When victims are obligated to stay at home with abusers, due to loss of work or isolation orders, an already-abusive situation often gets worse. 

Our partnership with Violence Free MN 

Last November, a horrific act of domestic violence claimed the lives of some Two Bettys clients.  When something like this happens, it’s natural to ask ourselves, is there any way this could’ve been prevented?  Could I have done anything to help?  What can we do now to prevent this kind of thing in the future?  These questions led me to invite Violence Free MN to train our Two Bettys staff and cleaners.  Violence Free MN is a statewide coalition of over 90 member programs working to end relationship abuse. 

We’ve always been mindful of cleaner safety, as our cleaners are generally alone while in client spaces.  Even before partnering with Violence Free MN, we were providing strategies to ensure they stayed safe while cleaning.  Strategies like keeping their phone handy at all times in case of an emergency, or only wearing one earbud while jamming to music during a clean, so they could stay aware of their surroundings.  But after the tragedy last November, we wanted to up our game even more.  Our aim is to not only keep cleaners safe, but also do all we can to help clients who might be experiencing domestic abuse. 

At the end of 2019, Violence Free MN came to Two Bettys to teach our HQ staff:

  • The different types of domestic abuse and how to identify warning signs
  • The steps to take if you know or suspect that someone is experiencing domestic abuse

Looking ahead

The next step is to have Violence Free MN to provide a similar training to our entire cleaning staff. A training was scheduled at our Refill Station, but then COVID-19 hit and we had to postpone.  We’re currently preparing to offer the training virtually. We’re excited to equip our cleaners with the knowledge and tools that can help to ensure their safety, and help them keep an eye out for client safety, too.  

Our specialty is green-cleaning homes and businesses–we’re not professional social workers.  We can’t predict or prevent every incident of domestic or sexual violence.  But empowering our cleaners and staff with tools to protect their own safety, and identify possible domestic violence situations–that’s important to us.  If a cleaner does spot warning signs of abuse, they can discreetly provide resources and avenues to support, while also taking measures to keep themselves safe.

We’re here for the tough conversations

Social justice and supporting our community are at the core of what founder Anna Tsantir wanted Two Bettys to be about when she co-created the company in 2006.  Today, our commitment to taking positive actions on behalf of our cleaners, clients, and the community is stronger than ever.  Whether we’re looking at systemic racism or domestic violence or environmental impact, we’re an organization that’s not afraid to shine a bright light into dark corners.  We aim to expose injustices and take action whenever we have the agency to do so.