There is much employers can do to support survivors and help end domestic violence. And, there are a number of reasons why it is in the employers best interest to address domestic violence and be prepared to support employees who are survivors.
Policies and Procedures
You can develop company policies and procedures that will support survivors. They can include things like:
- Ensuring confidentiality for the employee, unless they granted permission to share information, except as necessitated for workplace safety measures.
- Flexible leave time for the survivor employee
- Altering work schedules (if possible)
- Relocating the employee to another office, part of the building or branch (if possible)
- Internal procedures for communicating about potential danger
- Screening calls for the employee
- Removing the employee’s contact information from directories and websites
- Obtaining abuser information such as a photo, vehicle make/model/license plate for security personnel
For more ideas and resources, check out the Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Assault National Resource Center.
Create a Culture of Support
One of the best things you can do is create a company culture that is supportive of survivors. One where employees are encouraged to come forward if they are experiencing domestic violence. You can do that by hosting employee trainings on your policies and procedures and on learning about how to recognize domestic violence, posting signs about where to seek help for domestic violence, putting up stickers/mirror clings in bathrooms with information for seeking help, hold brown bag conversations, and keep informational brochures on hand. New Beginnings has these materials and more that we would be happy to send to you. Reach out to Sarah, our Community Engagement Coordinator and she’ll get them sent out to you.
If you suspect an employee may be experiencing domestic violence, we have some tips for how you can start a conversation with them.
Talk to Employees You’re Concerned About
The first step is to try to talk about it in a private, confidential setting. You can ask open-ended questions like:
- I notice that your partner seems to be making you scared. Is everything ok?
- I notice that you’ve been missing lots of work. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
- I notice that your partner keeps calling and showing up at work. Can you tell me what’s going on?
- I notice that you’ve had some injuries. Did someone do that to you?
Once you get the conversation going, show support by saying things like:
- I’m concerned about your safety.
- What you are experiencing is abuse, and no one deserves to be abused.
- I’m going to keep checking in with you to see how you are doing.
- How can I be most helpful?
- I know an organization you can turn to, where you won’t be judged and can get information and support. Call New Beginnings’ 24-hour Helpline at (206) 522-9472.
- If someone is sharing about their abuse, believe what they are saying.
- If someone denies abuse but you believe it’s happening, pick the conversation up again later, and continue expressing your concern and support.
- The goal is not to get a lot of personal details or provide counseling, but to determine if there’s an issue affecting your employee’s well-being and the safety of your work place.
- Do not blame or hold the employee responsible for an abuser’s threats or actions.
- Don’t judge—it’s hard, and often dangerous, to leave an abusive relationship.
- Be patient; it can take a long time for someone to get help or leave a relationship.
- Our 24-hour Helpline is here for you too; call anytime to get help to support a survivor.