As a background checking service we see our fair share of physical and sexual violence that can be related to the home or domestic environment. But domestic violence is not necessarily contained within the home. Domestic violence may originate in the home, but it can affect the workplace.
Studies claim that one in four women are victims of domestic violence. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among women in the workforce. While women constitute the majority of victims, there are men too who are subjected to domestic violence at the hands of their significant other. Domestic violence can by anything from physical and sexual assault to psychological abuse. All of it has its effects and its consequences that can prove detrimental to the workplace environment.
The most obvious effect is that someone who is abused will probably not function as well as someone who comes to work without being forced to dwell on the fearsome events at home. There are the physical issues, meaning injuries and pain suffered during domestic disputes. There is the long and short term psychological effects, all of which adversely effect the general morale of most working environments. Fellow employees who are aware of another employee suffering abuse are distracted and distressed by the results.
And then the domestic situation can come to work. Lovers become stalkers and obsess about the target of their rage. The reasons are many, ranging from substance abuse issues, to financial concerns or the more basic romantic considerations--the break up of a relationship, an affair. And sometimes it is for truly stupid or concocted reasons or no real reason at all. But whatever the reason, more than a few women have been killed or injured in the workplace by angry spouses and significant others. In the fit of pique, they are unable to control themselves. And not clear headed enough to consider the issues of collateral damage. Because, as tragic as it is, not only is the object of anger harmed, but other employees as well.
Employers need to develop a policy that confrontsh domestic violence and the workplace. The worst thing an employer can do is try to ignore it or make believe it doesn't exist. Pretend all you want, but other employees sure know when something is amiss. Morale drops when the employer ignores or otherwise refuses to deal with the situation.
There are any number of course where prevention training can help managers and coworkers identify victims. Most employers who arrange for courses in prevention training can identify critical domestic violence situations more easily and prevent those situations from reaching critical mass.
No one should be subjected to the terrors of domestic violence. But, despite all of our hopes and righteous indignation, domestic violence will occur at home. The key for most employers is to keep fit from spreading to the workplace. Prevention is a far better choice than crisis management. No employer wants the burden of experiencing someone injured or killed in the workplace. No employer needs to confront the liability issues and the publicity resulting from being yet one more company on the six o'clock news.
Seek help. There are training courses on workplace domestic violence inmost parts of the country. Get the training. Become aware of the issues. Maybe even save a life.