For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of domestic-violence, it’s simple to scoff and say, “If I were her, I would pack up and leave,” or “Why doesn’t he just change the locks and his phone number?” But the complexities of domestic violence, also referred to as intimate-partner violence (IPV), are anything but simple. It entails physical pain, emotional anguish and psychological distress on behalf of the abused individual along with their family, friends and coworkers.
According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of manipulative behavior, including acts or threatened acts, used by a perpetrator to gain power and control over a current or former spouse, family member, intimate partner, or person with whom the perpetrator shares a child. It occurs in heterosexual and same-sex relationships and impacts individuals from all economic, educational, cultural, age, gender, racial and religious demographic. While power and control reside at the core of domestic violence, the makeup of an abusive relationship can often be hidden in a range of dynamic actions taken by the batterer against the abused.
Violence isn’t always directed at another person. Throwing objects aggressively across a room, withholding phone use or any other way to communicate with friends and family and punching walls are all examples of aggressive behavior that may not be directed at a partner, yet is used to intimidate and manipulate. Take a moment to review the Power and Control Wheel below, which helps in understanding the extents of IPV.
THE FACTS AFFECT US ALL
- 1 in 4 women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 21 to 60 % of victims of IPV lose their job due to reasons stemming from domestic abuse.
- 96 % of abused women experience problems at work due to abuse: 56 percent are late to work, 28 percent leave work early, and 54 percent miss full days.
- 18,000 women have been killed in domestic disputes since 2003.
- Annually in the U.S., nearly 1.5 million women and more than 800,000 men are raped or assaulted by an intimate partner.
- 8,000,000 days of paid work are lost by women every year because of abuse.
- 2 in 5 gay or bisexual men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
- A woman is 70 times more likely to be murdered in the weeks after leaving an abusive partner.
- 75 % of domestic-violence victims are harassed at work by their partner. 
- 65 % of employers do not have a plan for domestic violence. 
NOT A PRIVATE MATTER
Decades ago, at the unfortunate behalf of the abused, domestic violence was considered a private matter and many organizations turned a blind eye, even to the most blaring of cases. Today, the American workplace stands firm in assuring that domestic violence is not a private matter and organizations must take the safety of employees into consideration. An abuser may not know where a survivor is staying, but they almost always know their place of employment — as well as the hours they keep, where they park and potentially how to gain entry into the building.
Along with universal signs of personal challenges during times of crisis such as depression, absenteeism, lateness, decreased job performance or addiction, some specific red flags a survivor of IPV displays includes the following:
WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND TO THREATS
Visible physical injuries, creating excuses for visible injuries, overly apologetic and meek behavior, wearing long sleeves on a hot day or sunglasses inside, avoiding windows and bright lighting, asking their partner for permission to go about daily tasks and social situations, having little money or transportation available, unusual or excessive telephone calls, excessive fatigue, being easily startled, casually mentioning their partner’s anger or aggression and notable symptoms of depression or anxiety.
There are several steps an organization can take to maintain the safety of all personnel when an employee discloses that they are in a violent relationship or fearful of their partner.
- Review all applicable policies and procedures with management and ensure that everyone knows how to promptly respond in an emergency situation.
- Incorporate (if necessary) a system that ensures all visitors have signed into the building and are permitted to be there.
- Notify security personnel (when applicable) and the organization’s management team of the threat.
- Determine if the survivor has an order of protection and obtain a copy for their file, if permitted by organizational policy and state laws.
In addition to EAP and resource referrals, organizations can address survivor needs in other helpful ways:
- Allowing flexible scheduling if an employee needs time off for counseling, court sessions, or legal appointments.
- Adding security measures including parking-lot escorts and call screening.
- Providing educational materials and contact information for help regarding IPV in areas such as lunch rooms, staff lounges and bathrooms.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Navigating the personal issues of employees that spill into the workplace and assessing workplace threats can be daunting for any manager or leader.
The Ulliance team is experienced and ready to help with how to get started or any other management of workplace-crisis incidents. Ulliance helps connect your employees to valuable resources and consults with you to ensure proper precautions have been taken to maintain a safe and productive workplace.
During the month of October, which is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, AND throughout the year, Ulliance encourages organizations to raise awareness of domestic violence in the workplace by sharing information, resources and support. Does your organization offer an EAP? If not, please call 866-648-8326 for more information about Ulliance Life Advisor EAP.
About the Authors
This blog was authored by Tyanne Miskov and Jessica Vilani, both members of the Ulliance Account Services Management team, which provides account-management services, including management consultation for employee issues related to emotional-health disruption and safety in the workplace.
Tyanne Miskov, MA, LLP, CAADC has previous experience providing case management and outpatient-therapy services to individuals with co-occurring disorders. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling psychology and a certification in addiction through the state of Michigan.
Jessica Vilani, MM, CPLP, CEAP has an extensive background consulting on human resource and behavioral-health issues with client organizations. Jessica is also the former Board Chair of a Detroit-based domestic-violence agency. She earned her Master’s degree in management and is also a Certified Employee Assistance Professional.