Do You Know the Signs of Domestic Violence?

How to Help Employees Who Are in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou’re responsible for the tasks and performance of your employees, but when it comes to their personal well-being, it can be hard to know where your responsibility begins and ends. When you suspect that an employee may be experiencing domestic violence, how do you know how and when to say something?

Domestic violence isn’t always obvious; employees experiencing partner abuse may not show up to work with obvious physical signs. Instead, you may even miss an employee that is being abused because the signs can be varied and unclear. Here are a few of the common signs of domestic violence:

  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Depression or stress-related illnesses
  • Low self-esteem and social isolation
  • Marital and family problems
  • Afraid of partner’s temper or goes along with what partner wants out of fear
  • Visible signs of injury

As you might expect, it can be challenging to know if a person is experiencing depression, and even more complicated to know whether that depression stems from a situation involving partner abuse. Consider your unique role as a supervisor:

  • As a manager, you are in a position to observe your employees’ behavior on a daily basis, noting changes in demeanor, job performance and arrival times. Keep in mind that any discussion with employees must focus on job performance issues and not any elements from their personal life.
  • You are not in the position to provide counseling or diagnose domestic violence. Your role is simply to offer your employee the opportunity to talk and then help them identify the resources they need.
  • Balancing your role as a supervisor and your desire to help an employee in a difficult situation can be challenging. There are ways to open a conversation that can allow an employee to share, but without stepping over that important line:
    • I’ve noticed that you seem distracted lately. Is there anything I can do to help you get back on track?
    • You’ve had some absenteeism lately and you didn’t meet the deadline on the ABC project. That doesn’t seem like you. Is there anything you’d like to talk about? I’d be happy to listen.

Deciding to tell someone that they’re experiencing domestic violence is generally the hardest step, so don’t feel like you need to pressure your employee to share. Simply assure them that you’re available if the need arises.

If your employee does tell you that they are the victim of partner abuse, help them identify local resources, such as the YWCA Shelter, counseling and other tools. For more information about Victim Services, call or visit the YWCA of St. Joseph.

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