Domestic violence can take many different forms, each circumstance with its own set of unique characteristics. It isn’t always obvious when a co-worker is experiencing problems at home. The following list of warning signs can give you a sense of what could be a cry for help.
Warning Signs That an Employee May Be a Victim
- Unexplained injuries or injuries that do not correlate with the explanation of how they occurred, such as bruises, black eyes, broken bones, and hearing loss, often attributed to "falls," "being clumsy," or "accidents"
- Dress that is inappropriate (i.e., long sleeves in warm weather or wearing sunglasses inside), which may indicate a hidden injury
- Uncharacteristic absenteeism, tardiness, or change in job performance, including poor concentration, errors, slowness, and inconsistent work quality
- Uncharacteristic signs of anxiety and fear, including emotional distress, fearfulness and depression
- Sensitivity about home life or hints of trouble at home
- Requests for special accommodations, such as leaving early or time off to attend court
- Inability to travel for work
- Isolation, unusual quietness, or keeping away from others
- Minimization and denial of harassment or injuries
- An unusual number of phone calls, faxes, or emails from a current or former partner, strong reactions to those calls, and reluctance to converse or respond to phone messages
- Insensitive or insulting messages from a partner or former partner taken by others
- Disruptive personal visits to the workplace by present or former partner
- Irrational or unfounded fear about losing his or her job
- Overachiever (remember – work may be this person's only lifeline)
No two cases of domestic violence are alike. This list includes only the most common warning signs, and you may know a colleague presenting a sign not included on this list. Similarly, you may know a co-worker who appears to present warning signs, but is not actually experiencing abuse at home.
Domestic violence is a sensitive issue. If you suspect that a colleague is in danger, you should exercise the utmost discretion and sensitivity in addressing the issue. Contact your co-worker’s supervisor or human resources representative and inquire about your company’s domestic violence policy.
If your company does not have a domestic violence policy, please encourage your human resources department to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.