A safe, supportive workplace can save lives.
A stable, independent income can be a truly life-changing part of any plan to seek safety for a victim of domestic violence. By creating and promoting a workplace culture that supports victims, you support that path to freedom.
This is not just important for victims you may employ or work with in the future. The reality is there are likely victims of domestic violence among your workforce right now. This means you’re already in a position where you could be a life-saving source of help.
Victims of domestic violence may go to great lengths to hide the abuse. Their workplace is somewhere they want to be known as a great employee or professional worker, and they fear the judgment that may come if people know what’s happening in their home. This means a victim will likely try to hide the impact domestic violence has on their work performance as well.
One of your employees, Ana, is normally great about managing her schedule and meeting deadlines. Suddenly she is showing up late for work and falling behind on important projects.
It’s possible that Ana’s work habits have suddenly changed, and if that’s the case, you may need to issue a warning or even a reprimand.
But you decide to talk to Ana first, and she tells you that her boyfriend has been hiding the car keys to prevent her from getting to work on time. He is also accessing her calendar on her phone to move around and delete appointments and deadlines. She says he is very controlling and manipulative, and she isn’t sure what to do. You now know the sudden change in Ana’s work performance is directly related to domestic violence. Instead of punishing Ana, you let her know about accommodations you’re able to provide in the workplace and support that’s available through a domestic violence center like Hubbard House.
Some other signs that you may see in the workplace include:
These signs in themselves don’t mean there is domestic violence in the home, but they could be signs that tell you something is going on and the employee may need support.
If you believe someone in your workplace needs help, it’s important to talk to them in a supportive, safe way. You should also consider the laws relating to employee protections, the limits of confidentiality in your workplace, and similar areas, in consultation with your legal department. When you know the kind of protections you are able to offer, make sure to communicate those. A victim may not come forward if they don’t know what will happen in response.
Hubbard House can help you develop a workplace policy on domestic violence to answer these questions and many others. Contact our Community Education Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Whether or not there is a workplace policy in place to address domestic violence and support for victims, there are supports that you can provide, if the victim wants them.
Please do not assume the victim wants these accommodations. When possible, work directly with the victim to determine how you can provide support in a way they are comfortable with.
Cultural change starts one person at a time, and there are many ways Hubbard House partners with local employers to reach many, many people.
A safe, supportive workplace is not only an important safety net for a victim. It’s a path to freedom.
Kathy did everything she could to hold her home and work worlds together, but it became harder and harder to do. The bruises left behind by her abusive husband were hard to cover with cosmetics. His constant phone calls were drawing attention from her supervisor. And, her work quality was suffering because she was preoccupied with thoughts of survival. If things continued the way they were, Kathy felt sure she’d lose the job she loved, and the career she’d worked so hard to build.
One day, feeling she had little to lose, Kathy told her supervisor what was happening. She had been trying to leave her husband for a long time, but there were many barriers. She also feared he might become even more violent if she tried to leave. Her supervisor had attended trainings and knew just how to help Kathy: She supplied her with the Hubbard House hotline number and shared with her the policies the company had in place to help protect her life and her livelihood.
Kathy reached out to Hubbard House. She made an appointment with an advocate and formulated a plan to leave her abuser safely. She also took advantage of the many security measures offered by her employer; for example, she was allowed to vary her work hours and received escorts to and from her car by security. She also took advantage of the paid time off her employer offered, so she could file for an injunction for protection. In the end and because of the support she received, Kathy was able to find safety, and her employer was able to retain an excellent employee.