Domestic Violence
in the Workplace

All employers should be concerned about the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. According to a survey of 1,200 employees, conducted by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence:

  • 65% reported being harassed while at work, either in person or on the phone.

  • 63% believe victims were unable to finish assignments because of an abusive situation.

  • 31% felt somewhat obligated to assist a victim of domestic violence by doing the individuals work or providing excuses for their absence.

  • 38% said they were extremely to somewhat concerned for their own safety when they learned that a co-worker had been a victim of domestic violence.

Some of the warning signs employers should look for include:

  • bruises or injuries accompanied by elaborate excuses of accidents or clumsiness

  • frequent tardiness and absence from work

  • decreased productivity and attentiveness

  • low self-esteem

  • depression

  • crying

  • self blame

  • harassing phone calls at work

  • isolation

  • personality changes

  • fear of conflict

  • insufficient access to monetary resources

10 things businesses can do to fight domestic violence:

1

Adopt a policy that will not tolerate violent or disruptive behavior in the workplace. Once the company’s position is established, publicize the policy and report procedures to all employees.

2

Speak out on the issue. By speaking out on the issue and providing visible leadership, corporate management can demonstrate that victims enjoy a supportive environment at their company.

3

Sponsor a Domestic Violence Awareness Day. Enroll all employees in an awareness seminar during which corporate leaders speak out against abuse.

4

Include articles about domestic violence in company publications. Internal publications intended for employees are a perfect vehicle for promoting awareness of the problem.

5

Have materials that publicly condemn domestic violence, including posters, buttons, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, T-shirts and inserts into paychecks providing numbers for victims to call for help.

6

Improve security measures to address stalking of employees, including training security personnel on the needs of domestic violence victims.

7

Enhance benefit packages. Include leave policies that enable victims to go to court, as well as programs allowing employees to volunteer at local shelters during extended lunch hours, etc.

8

Hold employee training programs. Teach managers how to identify victims at work and direct them to services in the community. Require managers to attend domestic violence awareness training. 

9

Employee assistance programs should provide counseling and referrals to shelters and other domestic violence organizations.

10

Adopt a local domestic violence shelter through monetary or in-kind contributions.

If the employer becomes aware of a specific concern

related to domestic violence, additional precautions can be taken:

  • Take steps to keep the abuser out of the workplace.

  • Alert building security and distribute a photograph of the abuser.

  • Allow the employee to change his or her work schedule.

  • Offer to change the employees phone extension.

  • Support efforts to obtain police protection.

  • Be flexible in allowing time off for the employee to seek medical treatment or appear in court.

  • Give the victim a parking space close to the building.

Image by Kelly Sikkema
Workplace Violence Response Checklist

Common Diagnoses

  • Sprain and Fractures

  • Fractures associated with falls due to being pushed and/or shoved

  • Fractures of the forearm are commonly seen when the woman attempts to shield herself with her arm

  • Facial and orbital fractures from direct blows to the area of the eyes

Mental Health / Psychiatric Symptoms

  • Depression

  • Substance Abuse

  • Drug abuse

  • Post-traumatic stress reaction/disorder

  • Suicide attempts

Medical Signs

During Pregnancy

  • Injury to the breasts, abdomen and genital area

  • Pre-term abortions, bleeding, miscarriages, and premature labor

  • Abused women are at a significantly higher risk of having intrauterine growth retardations and low-birth weight infants.

Clinical Indicators

  • Chronic pain

  • Dental problems

  • Frequent use of prescribed tranquilizers or pain medications

  • Physical symptoms related to stress

  • Panic attacks

  • Eating disorders

  • Chronic headaches

  • Gastrointestinal complaint

  • Head and spinal injuries

  • Burns and bites

  • Sprains and fractures

  • Contusions, bruises, and lacerations

  • Self-Inflicted injuries

Clinical Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • Frequent vaginal and urinary tract infections

  • Chronic pelvic pain

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease with negative lab findings

  • Recurrent sexually transmitted diseases

  • Irregular vaginal bleeding

  • The sexual abuse victim will not usually disclose that they have been abused

  • Pain and fear upon examination

  • Poor contraceptive compliance and/or multiple therapeutic abortions

  • Sexual dysfunction