The Work Impacts of Domestic Violence
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The Work Impacts of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Awareness MonthOnce she slugged him pretty hard

while out to a party with his co-workers.

Later she chased him through the moonlit snow

both barely clothed, she with a big kitchen knife in her hand.

He lost his military career and pension – to charges of alcoholism and “conduct unbecoming an officer.”

But no one mentioned domestic violence, just the booze and the inability to control his wife.

I lost my innocence about domestic violence when dealing with the appeal. Who knew it happened to well-educated folks?

But, of course, it does. And it hits the workplace in many ways.

Victims of domestic violence – male and female – often miss work. Some are distracted at times and others’ productivity declines significantly. The medical treatments  can add to insurance costs.

The bully in the relationship often carries that pattern, although not its intensity, into the workplace as well. And sadly, sometimes the violence is also brought into the workplace.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. But what does that really mean to you?

Do you understand that such violence is never justified? Or does a part of you still think the victim could solve it, if s/he would just stand up for herself or flee?

Do you understand that emotional abuse is as real as physical abuse? Do you wonder if someone you know is a victim of domestic violence – but keep your concerns to yourself so as not to pry?

Is a close friend increasingly being cut off from friends by a suitor or spouse? Or is a co-worker dealing with frequent calls from their spouse or partner all day every day? Do you work with someone who periodically shows bruises or injuries or appears to be covering such up?

Would you like to offer help but have no idea how? Or fear that calling child protective services would ruin your relationship with the person?

Whether you are the boss, the friend, or the co-worker – your support can make a big difference to the victim.

You might start with simple questions or comments such as “you seem really stressed lately, is there anything I can do?” or “we hardly see each other/talk anymore, is something wrong’”.

Give the person an opportunity to talk to you, but don’t push it.

Better yet, if you have any suspicions you may know a victim, educate yourself. One of the best places to start is your Employee Assistance Program (if you have one at work).

Other resources include The Safe At Work Coalition, which has lots of good ideas and resources. You can also read this article from the ABA Journal that talks about the legal and other options companies face, but without too much legalese, and this is an excellent video on preventing teen dating abuse/violence.

And if you are a victim, there is plenty of help and advice to help you cope safely at the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE.

Image: Herald Post via Flickr, Creative Commons

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. She can be reached through her website, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.


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  1. Good points and tips to assist someone from work with domestic violence issues.

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