Warning Signs That a Coworker is Suffering from Domestic Violence

Published On: October 6, 2022|Categories: Employers|

While plenty of people who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) or some other form of domestic violence manage to hide it initially, eventually the signs carry over into work or social settings.

Hundreds of domestic violence cases manage to go unnoticed every year though; one of the  main reasons being that people are unaware of the wide range of signs of abuse.

Physical signs of abuse are typically what people look for in someone they suspect might be suffering from domestic violence, but signs of abuse extend beyond those, and can be more subtle than one might initially think.

Today we’re going to break down the top warning signs to look out for when a coworker might be suffering from domestic violence.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is the intentional physical, sexual, emotional, or mental abuse by a partner or family member.

It’s important to remember that domestic violence is not always physical. Abuse can also manifest as being isolated by partner from family and friends, having finances controlled, emotional manipulation, psychological bullying, as well as physical and sexual violence.

Due to the varying forms of domestic violence, it’s important to be able to recognize the different signs; it very well may save the life of your colleague.

Signs of domestic violence

Some coworkers are more skilled at hiding signs of domestic abuse than others. We’re going to give you a list of some of the most common signs so that you have a wide understanding of what to look out for in your colleagues.

  • Visible physical injuries (black eye, bruises, busted lip, sprained wrist)
  • Disruptive person visits from partner while at work
  • Worsened work performance and decreased productivity
  • Unusual or excessive phone calls (especially ones that seem to be upsetting)
  • Wearing attire that doesn’t suit the situation (e.g., long sleeves in the heat of summer)
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Blatant emotional distress or obvious signs of anxiety
  • Uncharacteristic absenteeism, lateness, arriving early or leaving early
  • Abrupt changes in behavior or personality, such as isolation from work or social gatherings

If you have noticed one or several of the above signs of behaviors in a coworker, it may not necessarily confirm the employee is suffering from domestic violence, but it could be.

What to do if you suspect domestic violence

As a coworker, you might not feel comfortable approaching your colleague about something so personal; this inclination would be correct, unless you’re close with them.

If you are an employer, manager or supervisor of some sort and have witnessed multiple things in an employee that has led you to suspect they may be a victim of domestic violence, it may be time to approach them in private, away from other staff.

You can ask them non-threatening questions around such phrases such as — noticing there’s been a change in their work performance, or that they’ve been getting upsetting phone calls. 

You can also leave it more open-ended by doing things such as—affirming you are there if they ever need to talk about anything, you want to be able to support them when they’re struggling and that you’re concerned for their safety and would like to help.

If your employer or coworker confirms to you they are in a dangerous home situation, it’s important to validate their experience and then refer them to a domestic violence resource and encourage them to seek professional help.

If you suspect an employee or coworker may be suffering from domestic violence but would rather not approach them about it, send us a confidential message today.

Contact us for domestic violence resources

Mazzitti & Sullivan offers a diverse range of high-quality EAP services that help you to stay happy, healthy and productive in your professional life.

Our goal is to successfully improve employee wellness as well as help you enhance your work performance so as to improve your overall sense of wellbeing in the workplace.

To learn more about which of our services is the best fit for you, call us today at 800-543-5080.

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