Advice & Help

Domestic Violence and its Impact on the Workplace

All of us are affected directly or indirectly by the “monster twins”- crime and violence. At work our colleagues will recount incidents of robbery, shooting, rape, wounding and murder they have either experienced or witnessed. Some are so traumatized that they have to proceed on sick leave. 

One form of violence that impacts negatively on the individual and by extension, the organisation is domestic violence. 

Some of us would have seen an employee (usually a female) reporting to work with bumps and bruises all over her body punctuated by a “black eye”. The employee (victim) would play down the incident and even lie to co-workers stating that she was brutally attacked by a robber while at home. The truth would however soon be revealed that she was severely beaten by her spouse. 

Some of us would show pity and try to console her while others would say “Serve her right…that’s the price you pay when you are fooling around a married man” 

Regardless of the perceived cause, spousal abuse must not be condoned. 

Domestic violence often goes unreported as the victims are either fearful of the abuser and  blame themselves for the assault. This act of violence is not confined to women downtown as women uptown also fall victims. 

Profile of the abuser 

  • He was abused as a child
  • He witnessed abuse meted out to his mother and other female members of his family and  community
  • He has anger management problems
  • He is usually very controlling
  • He possesses  very low self esteem
  • He is usually very jealousy
  • He believes in male supremacy and has a very low regard for women
  • He possesses ineffective coping skills
  • He possesses ineffective communication and interpersonal skills
  • He is usually insecure about his role as a provider

Profile of the victim 

  • She possesses very low self esteem
  • She takes responsibility for the assault on her person and so will not file a report to the police
  • She lives in a state of denial
  • She lives in a state of fear and believes no one can help her
  • She lives in a state of economic and emotional dependency on the abuser
  • She believes that he (abuser ) will change
  • She usually lacks social, financial and legal support
  • She subscribes to  the view that men who beat women are expressing love and care
  • She is usually ashamed or embarrassed to share her woes with others
  • She will remain in the abusive relationship in order to secure and maintain the family unit

 Types of abuse 

  • Physical e.g. slapping, kicking, stabbing, cutting, choking, hitting
  • Emotional/psychological e.g. stalking, shouting, insulting, putting down, intimidating

 Response of the workplace to the victims of domestic violence 

  • Arrange for victim to receive professional counselling
  • Encourage victim to report matter to the police
  • Seek legal advice for victim
  • If employee has exhausted leave entitlement and needs time off from work, leave of absence with pay could be arranged
  • Assist the victim with relocation exercise
  • Keep the matter private/confidential and secure the dignity of the victim
  • Protect the employee from possible  attack on the work premises
  • Contact the Crisis Centre and seek advice especially if there is  need for  temporary shelter
  • If practical, a transfer or change of work schedule maybe arranged

About the Author: 
Wayne A. Powell is a human resource professional. You may contact him at [email protected] or at his  website.

About the author

Wayne A.Powell