Domestic Violence in the Workplace
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- It is estimated that 25% of workplace problems such as absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover and excessive use of medical benefits are due to family violence. (Employee Assistance Providers/MN)
- 56% of battered women arrive an hour late for work 5 times a month.
(Report on Costs of Domestic Violence, Victim Services of New York, 1987)
- A study found that 74 percent of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while they were at work. (The workplace guide for Employers, Unions, and Advocates, Family Violence Prevention Fund, 1998)
- Research suggests that 21-60% of intimate partner victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from the abuse (McFarlane et al., 2000; Riger, Ahrens, & Blickenstaff, 2000; Shepared & Pence, 1998; Stanley, 1992; Wettersten et al., 2004; Zink & Sill, 2004)
Developing a safety plan helps a victim to identify and evaluate actions which may enhance her/his safety. A safety plan consists of a tangible list of actions a victim and her/his support system can do in order to enhance and maintain safety. It should be reviewed regularly in order to accommodate any necessary or unexpected changes.
Along with consulting with an employer to implement a plan, a victim should be encouraged to seek support from a crisis center advocate for guidance through the process. It may be helpful to create a safety plan, both for home and for work.
Here are some suggestions:
- Talk with someone at the workplace whom you trust
- Explore the option of obtaining a protective order. Your local crisis center can assist you with that process
- For security measures, consider providing your employer with a picture of the perpetrator and a copy of your protective order, if you have one.
- Work with your employer to address telephone, fax, and email or mail harassment.
- Consider removing your name and number from automated phone directories.
- Review the safety of your parking arrangements. Consider an escort to your car and park near the building entrance if possible. Park your car so the front is facing out. Consider changing your license plates from a vanity plate if you have one. Review the safety of your childcare arrangements. Give a picture of the perpetrator and a copy of your protective order to the childcare provider.
Click here for a more detailed list of things to consider to increase safety at work.
- Tell someone you trust what is happening to you.
- If you seek medical care because your partner hurts you, tell the doctor what happened and request that the injuries and the explanation be noted in your medical file. Keep any photos of bruises or injuries or ripped clothing. All of this may be helpful if you decide to take legal action later on.
- If you are thinking of leaving, plan now. Hide a spare set of keys, money and extra clothes in case of emergency. Collect important papers for both you and your children, such as birth certificates and social security numbers. Have copies of all the children’s immunization records in case you need to register the children in a new school.
- Also collect evidence of your partner’s assets (such as paycheck stubs) if you plan to seek child support.
- Call your local domestic violence crisis center for free, confidential assistance and support.
What Should I Do if I Suspect My Employee May be Experiencing Domestic Violence?
Victims of domestic violence usually do not report abusive incidents to their employers. If there are signs of abuse, either physical or behavioral, which warrant concern, express these concerns in a supportive, nonjudgmental manner.
Become an Active Witness: SEE IT and SAY IT
SEE IT: Notice and acknowledge something is wrong
SAY IT: Talk about it
Click here for more information on how to start the conversation and what you can do if your employee begins to open up about the abuse.
HOW CO-WORKERS CAN HELP
Be alert to possible signs of domestic violence in co-workers’ changes in behavior and work performance, lack of concentration, increased or unexplained absences, placing or receiving harassing phone calls, bruises or injuries that are unexplained or come with questionable explanations.
- If a co-worker confides in you that s/he is being abused, believe her/him.
- Listen without judging. Victims of abuse often feel responsible, ashamed and afraid.
- Recognize the difficulties that prevent victims from leaving an abusive relationship: financial dependency, lack of housing, employment, daycare and transportation options, family pressures and fear.
- Recognize that the most dangerous time for a victim is when s/he attempts to leave an abusive situation, as this is when the violence often increases and may become deadly.
- Refer victims to a local domestic violence crisis center for free, confidential support and resources.
To access your local crisis center call the New Hampshire Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-866-644-3574
How do I know if an employee is being abusive?
The existence of domestic violence may be undetected or “invisible” due to the abuser’s exemplary job performance or ability to “act the role” while at work. Some abusers may appear to be charming, socially responsible, and an “ideal” husband or father to the outside world. Such characteristics may overshadow possible warning signs of abuse.
- Click here for a list of warning signs of abusive behaviors.
What can I do to address domestic violence in my workplace?
Fully and thoroughly addressing domestic violence as a workplace issue is a process involving the participation of employers, employees, and community advocates. Below are two resources that can help employers begin to address domestic abuse.
- Click here for a list of suggested best practices for employers.
- Click here for a sample domestic violence in the workplace policy.
In addition New Hampshire has a Workplace Initiative on Domestic Violence. Trainings and technical assistance are available to employers.
For information contact Elizabeth Gruber at (603) 224-8893 x 309.
- Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center -
This interactive initiative helps employers adopt vitally important policies to support and protect employees who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.