Domestic Abuse Comes To Work

When Sheri first met her boyfriend, his frequent excuses to visit to her workplace were almost romantic. But as he became more attached, he also demonstrated more and more violent methods of controlling Sheri’s lifestyle. “I loved going to work because I knew I wouldn’t get phone calls [from him] there,” says Sheri.

At work, people looked out for Sheri, but at home, there was little protection. Eventually, the boyfriend’s jealousies manifested themselves as domestic violence. At home he hit and choked her. At work, he threatened clients and jammed phone lines. Sheri’s domestic abuse problem became her employer’s problem.1

Increased health insurance costs, curtailed employee productivity, absenteeism, and the threat of physical harm to co-workers are just some of the factors influencing a surge in programs aimed at helping employees curb domestic abuse in their own lives.

The U.S. Department of Justice recommends that employers begin to educate employees about domestic violence and launch programs to provide management with the tools to respond when violence takes place. “…The healing begins only when we break down the walls of silence,” says Ginny Tolan, former V.P. of Human Resources at IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. “If companies ignore the issue, we may unknowingly become accessories to it.”2

A PEO can help you develop a proactive plan for dealing with domestic abuse:

  • Contact a member of the Safety and Risk Management team at a PEO immediately if you have any questions, or if you suspect that one of your employees is a domestic abuse victim. A PEO can help you create an environment that encourages employees to seek help.
  • Take advantage of the safety training for managers a PEO offers so that they can recognize the signs of abuse (unexplained bruises, harassing phone calls, etc.)
  • Make hotline numbers available to employees
  • Invite a shelter manager to address your employees during a staff meeting

Please click on the link below to read articles about risk management.

Let your PEO help you implement a workplace safety plan. Safety policies could include escorting threatened employees to cars, reassigning phone numbers, and keeping photographs of abusers at entrances so that security personnel can recognize potential threats.

  1. Jilian Mincer, “More Businesses Recognizing Domestic Abuse as a Workplace Issue”. The Kansas City Star. ↩︎
  2. Hope of Awakening. “Domestic Violence Awareness Program.” ↩︎