For victims of domestic violence, the workplace is both a safe haven and a place of potential risk. Work allows the abused person to get validation and develop relationships that the abuser cannot control. On the other hand, the abuser knows that the abused person will be at work every day. The abuser may do things to get the person fired, like disrupting them at work or making threatening calls to the company.
Creating a safety plan at the company is important for everyone at work, because threats at the workplace can impact other people besides the abused person. Some larger companies are more secure as they their own security personnel. Other organizations are smaller, and it is easy for anyone just to walk in the door.
If you want to ensure safety for victims of domestic violence and your company, here are a few tips:
- Reassure the abused person that the workplace is a safe place to obtain referrals for help.
- Refer the abused person to the employee assistance program (EAP) hotline.
- Consider asking an EAP manager to connect the employee with a counselor who is trained in domestic violence.
- Try to counsel the employee yourself.
- Offer to speak to the abuser.
- Offer your home as a safe haven.
- Ask the employee why they are staying with the abuser.
Follow-up questions should be directed to general inquiries such as “How are you?” “Did you contact the EAP, and was it helpful?”
If you feel ill-equipped to deal with this type of situation, consider asking the EAP for a manager consultation.
If the company is small and does not have EAP services or mental health coverage, consider contacting the local domestic violence service for referrals.
Remember, the workplace helps the person get out of their home and away from the abuser for several hours a day, and helps them stay financially independent. As an employer, you can have a crucial role in helping the person obtain assistance and resources.