It’s hard to imagine that people in our everyday lives may be victims of domestic violence, but the truth is it happens more often than most of us realize – to friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.
We spend so many hours of our lives with our colleagues, we may start to pick up on cues that things aren’t right at home. Domestic violence may start with exerting control over finances or with psychological attacks and can end in serious physical harm or death. In the middle may be stalking at work, contact check-ins, and physical signs of violence.
If you suspect that your co-worker may be experiencing domestic violence, here are some signs to watch out for:
Withdrawn and abnormally quiet at work.
Emotional responses that are inappropriate to the situation.
Bruises anywhere on the body, especially the sides of arms, neck, legs, ankles, and face. (If you don’t see injuries, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.)
They may have a raspy or croaky voice (from strangulation).
Different appearance in clothing or make up
Always in a heighten sense of stress -jumpy, reluctant to engage in conversation
Possible abuser visits work to check in multiple times a day
Excessive sick days
Co-worker shows extra anxiety at breaks and finishing work
Visible bruising/injuries followed by gifts and flowers, etc. at work
If you suspect a co-worker is experiencing domestic violence, consider who in your workplace would be the best resource. Most companies are by law required to have a safety and health representative, and you can ask Human Resources who they are. That person should have the knowledge and sensitivity to do what is right by your co-worker.
You are not powerless to help. Being kind, patient, and asking if they are ok go a long way in making a victim’s life just a bit easier.
If you are an employer concerned about an employee, contact us to learn how we can protect you and your employees from abuse.