Home > Psychological > Domestic Violence and Your Work Life

Domestic Violence and Your Work Life

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Mar 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Domestic Violence Workplace Employee

Most of us would believe that domestic violence at home and the place in which we work are totally unrelated. However, it is important to remember that home and work issues cannot always be kept separate entirely and domestic violence can impact greatly on the working life of someone who is being abused. It can result in the deterioration of an employee's performance, Increased Absenteeism or poor timekeeping which in turn can threaten both job prospects and job security.

People experiencing domestic violence are especially vulnerable once they attempt to leave their partners and may become intimidated about coming to work or going home from work or even while they are at work, as the abuser knows where they are located. This can give rise to health and safety issues and an increased risk of Workplace Violence.

Quite often, victims are reluctant to discuss this issue with their employer or even their own colleagues but there are some signs which, though not applicable to all, might give indications as to a victim's plight. They might include:

  • Turning up for work late or absenteeism without proper explanation
  • Uncharacteristic anxiety, depression, distraction or problems with concentration
  • Changes in the quality of work for no apparent reason
  • Receiving upsetting phone calls, e-mails etc., or being the victim of vandalism or threats
  • Obsession with time
  • Needing regular time-off for 'appointments'
  • Significant change in the employee's dress sense
  • Repeated bruising or injuries and explanations that don't seem to fit the injuries
  • Increase in hours being worked for no apparent reason

Help and Support for Individuals Experiencing Domestic Violence

An individual experiencing domestic violence should be made aware that help is available. If they do not feel comfortable talking to their line manager, then there is always human resources or a welfare officer who can provide information about organisations who can help and offer support. If required, changes can be made to the workplace to make it a safer place for the individual. These changes could include changing work patterns, workload or just providing support. Discussions with the victim should be handled sensitively and in confidence and it is important to remember that the victim knows the abuser and their patterns of behaviour better than anybody so any final 'plan' should reflect their own suggestions.

Some possible adjustments that could be considered:

  • If an individual is absent, some line of communication could be established between the individual and their line manager to ensure they are safe
  • Identifying a work contact for support and an emergency contact should the organisation be unable to contact the employee
  • Allowing the individual to change work patterns or workload and allowing more Flexible Working or special leave to enable
  • practical arrangements such as seeking legal advice, attending counselling, support group meetings or to attend court
  • Diverting telephone calls and diverting e-mails to a separate folder
  • Alerting reception and security staff if the abuser is known to come to the workplace
  • Alerting workplace nurseries if there is a fear of child abduction
  • Checking that staff have put in place suitable arrangements for the individual to get to and from work safely
  • Allowing the individual to use an assumed name at work, if desired

What can Other Employees do to Help?

There are no hard and fast rules about what a colleague should do to help if an individual is the victim of domestic violence. It is important to remember that not only might the individual prefer to keep details of their abuse strictly between themselves and their manager or welfare officer but we are not trained counsellors and may also be putting ourselves at risk if the abuser becomes aware of our support.

However, we can take basic steps to support a colleague who might be the victim of domestic abuse by talking in confidence to the individual, expressing our support and asking if there is anything we can do to help. We should always do this by not applying any pressure to the individual in terms getting information from them but simply letting them tell us only what they want to. We should not be judgemental nor make assumptions about the relationship but just try to be supportive and a good listener.

Employers should also be aware that, as well as looking out for the welfare of the individual, they also have a duty to the safety of the rest of the workforce and if a situation escalated which might cause the abuser to try to gain entry to the workplace, employers should not be afraid call the police if they are concerned that the safety of the workforce is threatened.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • abdi
    Re: Violence at Work
    a colleague had threaten to kill me, once i informed it to the Managing Director he said just drop it, ill have a chat with him. what should i do?
    21 November 2019
  • Morrigan
    Re: Safe Working Temperatures
    I work in a kitchen and in summer we were reaching temperatures of 39-40°c away from the equipment. Now it's winter we are.currently…
    21 November 2019
  • Vera
    Re: Where do I Stand in regards to Workplace Law?
    Good afternoon, I leave on the state of CT . I’m a food worker at school district. This morning I got at…
    20 November 2019
  • Anon
    Re: Bullying at Work
    I suffered violent bullying and was forced out of long term career at HMRC Revenue & Customs aka HMRC. I learned through that process that they…
    20 November 2019
  • Liz
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    I've worked night shift at my company for best part of 10 years, I've worked days when they have requested…
    19 November 2019
  • Boaner
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    I have a coffee tract that says I would to night shift as and when required. It actually works that I am in 2 weeks day shift and two…
    19 November 2019
  • Stuart Gallagher
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    I only eat haggis and drink IRNBRU i dont really eat KFC so i wouldnt know. IRNBRU and haggis is the best diet to have. Andy Murry is my…
    19 November 2019
  • Patti
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I had knee surgery and have been off for11 weeks. My Dr told me I could go back with restrictions. Can I be fired or demoted because of this?
    18 November 2019
  • Buzzy Bee !
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    After 25 years my employer wants every day and afternoon shift worker to work some nights. I do not…
    17 November 2019
  • Jay
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I have been with my company for 2 years me and my partner was expecting our 1st child but 11 days to when our baby was due she sadly passed…
    17 November 2019