Recognize the Warning Signs if an Employee or Co-Worker Might be a Victim of Domestic Violence
As much as we might not like to think about it, domestic violence happens and sometimes it happens to people we know and work with. Victims of domestic violence don’t always share their trauma. In fact, often they attempt to hide it. By becoming acquainted with common warning signs you can better understand behaviors that may otherwise be difficult to understand. Knowing what to look for can also put you in a better position for directing a victim toward help.
Common Signs of Domestic Violence
One sign of trouble is when a person comes to work with injuries that don’t appear to match with their story of what happened to cause the injury. If someone at work explains away black eyes and bruises, burns or broken bones by saying that they fall a lot or are just clumsy then it may be time for a closer look. If the person minimizes their repeated physical injuries this, too, could be a sign of domestic violence.
To avoid having to give explanations, the person may attempt to hide their injuries. Take note of unusual apparel choices such as long sleeves or turtlenecks in summer or wearing dark glasses in odd locations. Reluctance to share about the home environment or home relationships can also be a signal.
Even if you don’t see physical signs of abuse, there may be other clues that point to an abusive home situation. Distinct changes in work ethic can sometimes stem from issues of violence. If a characteristically on-time employee is repeatedly tardy or absent from work, if there are sudden change in their quality of work (errors, inability to focus or abnormal slowness in job performance) it could be related to trouble at home.
Other work-related signs of domestic violence include needing time off to attend court hearings and repeated and inappropriate interruptions at work by a partner in the form of abusive phone calls, emails or personal visits. You may also observe that the person becomes increasingly quiet and withdraws from coworkers. Even an excessive workload or unexpected overachievement can point to domestic violence, since the person may be burying themselves in work to escape relationship problems in the home.
At the YWCA we have several ways to help victims take steps toward hope and healing. We staff a 24-hour hotline that can be used by the victim or by someone else on their behalf. We also offer emergency shelter at no charge through our Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. We provide victim advocacy services to offer support, help with transportation and information on available resources. We also provide confidential, professional counseling at no cost to participants. Don’t allow domestic violence to continue unchallenged. You can learn the signs and point victims toward real help. It may be happening to someone near you, and today we invite you to take action.