Domestic Violence and the Workplace

Domestic violence and abuse can affect all aspects of your life, including your professional one. At the Safe at Work Coalition, we aim to help protect workers who have suffered domestic violence by providing them with a safe and empowering work setting. Our hope is to provide guidance to abused employees, coworkers and employers in ending the cycle of domestic violence and abuse.

Violence and Abuse: What is the Difference?

Violence and abuse are often used interchangeably and can overlap, but they are not necessarily the same. Violence is the use of force or coercion intended to hurt, damage, or kill. In abusive situations, violence– whether physical or verbal– is used as a tactic to exert power and control over another person. An abuser instills the abused with such fear and powerlessness that he or she feels totally dependent on the abuser. This is why so often abused partners are unable to leave a clearly unhealthy situation. It may seem counterintuitive, but abuse victims are often made to believe their abusers are the only ones they can trust.

Abuse occurs in same sex and heterosexual couples alike. It can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, religion or socioeconomic status. Abuse can be physical, psychological, financial or sexual. In many cases, it will take a strong outside influence for victims to extricate themselves from the situation.

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

We hope that compassion alone will drive us to help if we see a coworker or employee is being abused. However, we understand some may be reluctant to involve themselves in another situation. The truth of the matter is, when your employee/coworker is abused, it affects everyone. It diminishes productivity and morale and often proves disruptive to the work environment. Some of the ways this manifests at work include:

  • Stalking at the office
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lateness
  • Medical-related absences and insurance costs

Your employees and coworkers’ domestic violence and abuse are not only reprehensible, they are also detrimental to the company’s bottom line. Employers and coworkers can get involved by:

  • Providing access to resources- counseling, hotlines,etc
  • Ensuring employees have solid medical coverage
  • Providing security measures against unwanted visitors at the workplace
  • Providing moral support

We recommend that during orientations, employers provide guidelines on subject matter related to safety, violence and abuse. It is important that victims and those around them are able to recognize the problem so they may thoroughly address it. We invite you to read our blog for more information.