How an employer can help if they suspect domestic violence at home of an employee.
Updated: Feb 27
Domestic violence is a sensitive issue, and is difficult for any employer to know how to deal with it.
Whilst you need to support your staff, providing a safe workplace. discussing private matters may seem like you're overstepping boundaries and privacy.
Sometimes domestic violence may impact an employees work life, and as human beings who are also employers and colleagues, it's natural to feel we have a responsibility to help and support anyone experiencing domestic abuse.
Pros and Cons of getting involved
If you believe an employee is experiencing domestic violence, it's better to take action to help and protect them than regret and wish you had done something.
It could be something as simple as signposting towards resources and support, putting them in touch with a hotline dealing with domestic violence, a local charity, shelter or counseling services.
If work is suffering because of the domestic abuse or the safety of other employees or customers, it's important to take steps to address the situation.
There are cons in getting involved. e.g., discussing private and personal matters without tact and the staff member consenting to discussing this may feel very uncomfortable and an invasion of privacy.
Getting facts and understanding the situation before taking any action is the wise approach due to unintended consequences and potentially making the situation worse for the staff member. Being sensitive is key and if you don't have that skill then get the help of another employee who the staff member trusts or respects, it's important to keep the staff member involved in all decisions.
Key signs of domestic violence
Some of the key signals a person is dealing with domestic abuse include physical signs, like injuries or bruises, changes to behaviour like increased sick days, anxiety, and a poor work performance.
If you see these signs, sensitivity, support and empathy is key in the approach you take and when talking to them about domestic abuse.
It's always best to show you care and offer support, and asking if they need help, do some research of local support groups or charities and this will also show you care.
Always listen without judgment, respect privacy and autonomy to make their own decisions.
It can take some time to discuss their situation, so be patient and let them disclose what they feel comfortable with, being there for them and knowing that there are options helps increase their confidence, but o this journey there will be days when it seems like your going backwards, and that's okay.
How should a colleague approach domestic violence
If you suspect a work colleague is experiencing abuse, there are a number of things you can offer as support. Simply start by showing you care and and let them know they can talk to you without judgment, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Taking the same approach as an employer you can signpost them to services and groups locally that can help, or offer to go to appointments and meetings with them.
How common is domestic violence
The WHO (World Health Organisation), says approx. 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced sexual or physical violence at some point in their lives.
In the USA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline stats show 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men face severe partner physical abuse, sexual violence, or stalking in their lifetime.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced violence in the form of : sexual , physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner during their lifetime.
Stats are based on reported cases of domestic violence, the true stats will be higher. As Domestic violence is hidden thing, most don't report it as they fear the situation getting worse, retribution, feeling shame and helpless. Additionally, domestic violence takes many forms, including financial, emotional and psychological abuse , and because its hidden its hard to see it and therefore goes unreported.
Sensitivity and Support is key
Domestic violence is a serious issue that requires sensitivity and support. As an employer or colleague, it's important to approach the situation with care and empathy, and to provide resources and support for anyone who may be experiencing abuse. By taking a proactive approach and offering support, we can help create a safer and more supportive workplace for everyone.
My SOS Family Emergency Alert App could help a victim of domestic violence with a fast and easy way to get help from family, friends and colleagues as well as calling emergency services. However, in many circumstances a partner will take control of a persons life including their phone and seeing the My SOS Family Emergency Alert App on the phone may cause issues at home.
That's why My SOS Family also provide a speed-dial service that simply means adding a phone number to contacts which can be disguised and saved a as a work colleagues name, a work number or if that's impossible , the number can be remembered, a speed-dial call to that number will also trigger the My SOS Family emergency alert response centre alerting emergency contacts.
In cases of financial control, if you are a friend, colleague or family member, you can set-up the service for them and simply give them the speed-dial number to call from their phone, that way there is at least an emergency action plan in place.
If you too have financial difficulty and want to help a friend, colleague or family member, create an account for them and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help provide substantial discounts or even upgrade their account free of charge.