Recognizing Domestic Abuse

The first step for an employer is to be able to recognize possible domestic abuse. Often victims will not come forward willingly to HR or managers and disclose their abuse in fear of embarrassment or possible repercussions. Employers should be on the lookout for a pattern of the following behaviors:

  • Absenteeism or lateness, poor concentration and work-related errors or inconsistent work product that is not characteristic of the employee.
  • Injuries, especially repeated injuries, such as bruises, black eyes and broken bones, especially if the employee attempts to conceal the injuries or offers unconvincing explanation for how they occurred.
  • Requests for time off to attend court appearances.
  • Signs of emotional distress, such as unusual quietness and increased isolation from co-workers and unusual or repeated emotional upset during or following contact with the employee’s partner.
  • Suggestions or statements by the employee that a former or current partner is engaging in unwanted contact.
  • An unusual number of e-mails, texts, phone calls, etc. from a current or former partner and reluctance by the employee to converse with the partner or respond to messages.
  • Abrupt change of address by the employee or a reluctance to divulge where the employee resides.
  • Unwelcome visits by the employee’s partner to the workplace, particularly if the visits elicit a strong negative reaction by the employee[1].
  • Wears long sleeves or sunglasses at inappropriate times to conceal injuries.
  • Startles easily.
  • Appears fatigued.
  • Exhibits fear, anxiety or depression.
  • Shows a decrease in productivity.
  • Takes more unplanned time off.