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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:


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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. 


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


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

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