Ways to Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community
Maybe you’re not a victim of domestic violence, but given that the World Health Organization estimates that, in some regions of the world, up to 35 percent of women are suffering from partner violence, it’s possible you know someone that is affected. While domestic violence often goes undetected, there are steps you can take to be ready in the event that a friend or family member is suffering.
Know the signs of domestic violence. Partner abuse affects all races and income levels, so it can be challenging to see. Victims often either show no physical signs of abuse, or they develop skills for covering them up. It may be more helpful to look at a suspected abuser and watch for a variety of signs, including unpredictable mood swings, extreme jealousy, verbal abuse or isolation from family and friends.
Help raise awareness in your community. Neighbors are often the key to stopping domestic violence, simply by remaining aware. Help your local shelter educate the community about what domestic violence looks and sounds like and what they can do if they think they are witnessing domestic violence in their neighborhood.
Get organized. You will send a strong message if you form a group of individuals willing to be trained in recognizing domestic violence situations. The threat of discovery and education about alternative ways to relieve stress may help abusers recognize that there are solutions and that violence is not one of them. If you witness or suspect domestic violence, call 911 right away.
Make the most of technology. If the members of your community have smartphones, use a safety app to allow victims to alert their support system if they believe they are in danger. If your community is organized, try to identify any potential victims that don’t have a smartphone and consider pooling money to purchase her one.
Remember, if you witness an act of domestic violence or suspect it is happening, the safest option is to call 911.
If you’d like more information about organizing a domestic violence community education program, talk with the YWCA St. Joseph. We have the information and resources you need to help end domestic violence in your community.
How to Help Employees Who Are in a Domestic Violence Situation
You’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.
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.