Regardless of your employee’s gender, living in a violent relationship surely puts them in a difficult and confusing situation that affects them psychologically.
Living conditions under violent situations are precarious, demeaning and unsafe.
On a daily basis, the victim might be:
- ordered to do things;
- sexually assaulted;
- economically constrained.
Your workplace might be the only place where respect, stability and safety allow the victim to look beyond her relationship. On the other hand, your employees bring their concerns to work. They might:
- hide their unhealthy intimate reality;
- try to maintain their professional image;
- isolate themselves from the rest of the team;
- systematically refuse invitations to activities outside work;
- worry about drawing attention to a situation they consider impossible to expose.
Indeed, revealing this kind of situation, specifically in small communities, might represent for the victim an increased risk for her reputation or that of her partner, without taking in account the eventual threats or acts of revenge caused by such unveiling.
The victim might:
- censure herself;
- lie in order to hide the truth from her coworkers;
- avoid building and maintaining relationships;
- self-depreciate herself.
Your employee might likely:
- feel isolated;
- be very anxious;
- feel trapped in her relationship;
- show signs of depression.
Professionally, your employee could :
- be labeled a bad employee because she is often late, doesn’t show, or has unsatisfying performances;
- lack of self-confidence;
- fear success;
- be reluctant to professional development;
- show up late at work;
- have a hard time meeting deadlines;
- have a hard time managing stress;
- have difficulties concentrating or performing her tasks because she is distracted or harmed.
Your employee general state of health will suffer. Here are some common signs to watch out for:
- eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia;
- drug consumption;
- abuse of medication or alcohol;
- tiredness related to changes in sleep patterns or to an irregular or deficient diet;
- important changes in aesthetic choices caused by voluntary or unconscious carelessness, financial difficulties or economic or psychological control by the partner.
What are the impacts on the team?
The members of a team working with a person involved in situation of domestic violence might notice that something is wrong and start worrying, discreetly or not. If they are unaware of what their colleague is going through in her personal life, they can:
- interpret and judge the co-worker's behaviors;
- spread rumors;
- think their colleague is depressed, distant, withdrawn or lazy;
- consider it unpleasant or difficult to work with them;
- feel annoyed by the unstable or deficient productivity of the person;
- feel unhappy to have to make up for them;
- be asked to fulfill tasks they were not trained for, and lose motivation;
If the members of the team are aware that their co-corker is involved in a situation of domestic violence, they can:
- feel anxiety regarding the victim's safety;
- think that their own safety or that of everyone is at risk if the offender paid a visit or made harassing or threatening phone calls to his victim during working hours;
- know the other person or even work with them, especially in small communities;
- experiment a conflict of loyalty regarding the two partners involved in the violent relationship;
- be aware of certain threats hovering in the relationship;
- be aware of false rumors spread by the violent partners about the victim;
- witness scenes of violence;
- feel helpless and not know what to say or do;
- not know which information to share with whom (to the victim, the police, the youth protection centers, or to you as an employer, etc.);
- try to save the victim by supporting her, sheltering her, helping her to move or by intervening directly with the abuser;
- these are risky behaviors. They can lead to a confrontation with the aggressor and put the other workers in danger.