Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior including emotional, verbal and physical abuse, used by an abuser to gain and maintain power and control over a current or former spouse, intimate partner or dating partner. It knows no boundaries and transcends all socio-economic classes, levels of education, occupations, religions and races.
Also known as intimate partner violence, domestic violence doesn’t stay home behind closed doors. It is a public health and safety issue that can have high emotional, medical, personnel, and job-related costs. A preventable crime, domestic violence can endanger your company’s most valuable resource – your employees and have a negative impact on your business.
The good news is that no matter the size of your company – large or small – you can help prevent it. The first step is to create an environment where employees know that they will be supported if they come forward. Contacting an organization, such as HAVEN, who can provide employee training can help you do this.
Part of educating your organization and its employees is recognizing the signs of domestic violence. Knowing what to look for can allow you to connect an employee experiencing abuse to resources that can help. When watching for signs, be aware of an employee who:
- Experiences numerous disruptive visits from their partner at work
- Receives numerous phone calls throughout the day
- Is uncharacteristically absent or late
- Has a decline in work performance
- May avoid taking phone calls
- Avoids socializing outside of work
- Suddenly starts wearing an unusual amount of makeup
- Frequently requests time off for court
- May be anxious or “jumpy” when the phone rings or someone enters through the door
- Has frequent bruises
- Has disclosed they are leaving a bad relationship
- Frequently reports a lack of sleep due to family issues
These could be signs that the abuser is using the following tactics:
- Checking up on where the employee is at all times
- Limiting where the employee can go and who they can see
- Sabotaging transportation or child care
- Threatening to hurt family members or pets if the employee leaves them
- Repeated putdowns, name calling and verbal abuse
- Threatening to take children
- Not allowing access to money
- Attempting to isolate the employee from friends, family and support systems
- Threatening suicide/homicide
- Destroying property/belongings
What you can do to help an employee affected by domestic violence:
- If an abuser is onsite making threats or refusing to leave call 911
- Ask the employee what would be helpful – they are the experts on what is right for them and their unique circumstances
- Don’t judge or give advice
- Don’t blame the employee for the consequences of the abuser’s behaviors
- Connect the employee to domestic violence experts, such as HAVEN’s 24/7 Crisis and Support Line: 877-922-1274
- Connect the employee with your business’ Employee Assistance Program
For more information please contact HAVEN at www.haven-oakland.org or 248-334-1284.
This post originally appeared on Beth Morrison’s Crain’s Detroit Business blog.