Recognizing Domestic Violence in the Workplace

What happens at home affects people’s performance at work. What happens at home can affect the safety and work climate of your workplace. Family violence can affect everyone in the workplace – employers, employees, co-workers and clients.

If an otherwise valuable member of your team has become less productive, late or absent more frequently, it could be that something at home is causing the problem.

It is in the best interest of any organization to be able to recognize the signs of domestic violence. The following is a list of some signs that may be noticed in the workplace.

The victim may:

  • Try to cover bruises;
  • Be sad, lonely, withdrawn, and afraid;
  • Have trouble concentrating on a task;
  • Apologize for the abuser’s behaviour;
  • Be nervous when/if the abuser is in the workplace;
  • Make last-minute excuses or cancellations;
  • Use drugs or alcohol to cope; or
  • Miss work frequently or more often than usual

The abuser may interfere with the victim while at work by:

  • Repeatedly phoning or e-mailing the victim;
  • Stalking and/or watching the victim;
  • Showing up at the workplace and pestering co-workers with questions about the victim;
  • Displaying jealous and controlling behaviours;
  • Lying to co-workers;
  • Threatening co-workers;
  • Verbally abusing the victim or co-workers;
  • Destroying the victim’s or the organizations’ property; or
  • Physically harming the victim and/or co-workers

The abuser may attempt to prevent the victim from getting to work by:

  • Interfering with transportation by hiding or stealing the victim’s car keys or transportation money;
  • Hiding or stealing the victim’s identification cards;
  • Threatening deportation in a situation where the victim is sponsored;
  • Failing to show up to care for the children; or
  • Physically restraining the victim

If you believe that one of your co-workers or employees is a victim of domestic violence, you should contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for further information on how you can best assist the individual.

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