The Spillover Effect when domestic violence crosses the threshold of the workplace

Domestic abuse begins at home. But all too often it crosses the line into the workplace.

Because an abuser can easily locate a victim at work, employers must address domestic violence as a risk equal to other workplace safety concerns.

Domestic violence is a real and present workplace security risk

Employers must ensure that workplace violence prevention policies and procedures address domestic violence as a significant risk factor equal to other potential impacts on security and operations.

HR, Security, Legal, Compliance and other leaders must execute these policies and procedures – like critical protocols for handling restraining orders or orders of protection – while providing security and support with discretion, respect and compassion.

Employers and managers take the lead, but preventing workplace violence is a shared responsibility

It is up to leadership to create an environment of trust where an employee or concerned coworker can feel protected when reporting abuse-related concerns or alerts of an imminent threat.

Managers, supervisors and the general workforce are often the first to detect early warning signs. As daily witnesses to the interactions of coworkers, they notice sudden shifts in behavior. The overly anxious and uneasy manager across the hall. The surprising absences or lack of focus of a once-stellar employee. The gut feeling that something's not right.

Awareness of warning signs is a critical first step to taking action in preventing workplace violence

Know the warning signs

Take notice and then take action by reporting these signs of domestic abuse

  • Uncharacteristic moodiness, depression or distraction
  • Suspicious injuries, especially if the employee tries to conceal them with clothing or unusual amount of makeup
  • Abrupt changes of address
  • Appears to be living in car or not at home
  • Unusual amount of unwanted phone calls, emails or text messages from a current or former partner
  • Frightened when telephone rings
  • Unwelcome visits by employee’s partner to the workplace
  • Caller asking for information about employee’s location
  • Employee speaks about break up
  • Employee speaks of a protection or restraining order or court dates

Key Steps to Managing Domestic Violence in the Workplace

  • Stay abreast of current trends and concerns regarding domestic violence
  • Define your role as an employer in recognizing, responding and referring concerns of abuse
  • Validate compliance with legal issues related to employee privacy and employer responsibility
  • Create or update workplace violence prevention policies
  • increase awareness and training among the workforce on recognizing and reporting early warning signs
  • Establish interventions and know when and how to engage the support of outside resources
  • Review pragmatic security options

To learn more about other workplace violence warnings signs, click the link below to view "It Matters – Awareness and Action Are Essential to Preventing Workplace Violence."

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