Handling Abuse in the Workplace: What To Do If You Suspect Your Coworker Is Being Physically Abused by Their Partner

Northwest Woman Magazine (WA) november 2011

We spend a considerable portion of our day at work. In fact, we probably spend more time with coworkers than with family and friends. Because of that, we are more likely to notice when things are not quite right with a colleague. Abuse is more common than you might think. It happens to men, women and children, in every country, race, social-economic level, and age. In fact, the Bureau of Justice estimates that 4 to 6 million Americans experience some form of physical violence in their intimate relationship every year. While women by far make up the majority of abuse victims, men are abused as well. Data on male domestic violence is scant and unreliable since most men choose to suffer in silence rather than face the shame of reporting abuse by their female partners. Recent statistics say 85% of partner violence victims are female, and 25% to 29% victims are male. According to a women’s health survey, 25% of all women have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lives. With these numbers you could be working with someone who is being abused.
It is entirely possible that an associate would suspect a coworker is being abused before that person’s family or friends would. Knowing how to handle that situation is critically important.
Educate Yourself
Before doing anything, make sure that you are well-educated on the subject, especially on types of abuse. If you know what constitutes verbal, emotional, spousal and physical abuse, you will be better equipped for your conversation, and can better handle your coworker’s response.
While the signs to look for can differ depending on the type of abuse the victim is suffering, it is important to know some of the possibilities. If a coworker displays any, and especially several, of the following signs, the chances are very high that he or she is a victim of abuse:

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