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Domestic Violence at Work: How to Protect the Victims

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Domestic violence is a power imbalance inside the household that results in physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse. Although it usually only happens inside the confines of a house, it can largely affect a victim’s life, including their job and profession.

Domestic violence adversely impacts the emotional, mental, physical, and sexual health of the victim. (1) Physical forms like kicking, hitting, scratching, and the like are typical examples, but non-physical forms like threats and offensive language are included as well. In addition, there are other cases in which the abuser will psychologically manipulate the victim, stalk them wherever they go, or restrain them from going anywhere.

Domestic Violence and its Impact on Workplaces

Stress and trauma can manifest from these events, which, in turn, can deeply affect the victim’s work performance. Their motivation to be productive and cooperative might get compromised. As a result, the victim might be prone to absenteeism, lack of teamwork, and in worst cases, resign from their job. There are several ways employers and companies can help their employees fight against their abusers: mobilize stakeholders and partners to take part in advocating against domestic violence, empower anti-discrimination workplace policies, and encouraging them to file a felony domestic violence charge.

How To Protect Victims At Work

A National Resource Center called ‘Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence’ devised three ways to protect victims of domestic violence at work.(2)

  • Collaborate – workplace stakeholders and outside partners must work together to ensure the safety of their workers and employees from domestic and/or sexual violence, be it at home or work.
  • Prevent – workplaces can utilize several programs, activities, and policies to educate their stakeholders regarding domestic violence and take measures to prevent it.
  • Respond – workplace communities must extend support to their workers who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.

Moreover, several employment policies can help domestic abuse victims against discrimination in workplaces.(3)

  • Leave Policies – under the Family and Medical Leave Act, victims may be able to get a paid or unpaid leave or similar local laws.
  • Disability policies – employers may provide paid disability leaves or the victim can find a job accommodation for disabilities from domestic violence under laws connected to it like the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Sexual harassment policies – if the perpetrator is a coworker, the employer’s sexual harassment policy should be of concern.
  • Domestic violence or workplace violence policies – victims can seek help from their employers if they have adopted domestic/sexual violence policies.

Employers and colleagues can also encourage the victim to file felony charges depending on the severity of the abuse. Use of weapons, grave bodily harm, consistent abuse patterns, involvement of alcohol and drugs, and violating a restraining order can convict an abuser with a felony. They can face dire legal consequences like imprisonment longer than a year, restraining orders, substantial criminal fines, and probation periods or rehabilitation courses.


(1) Impact on the workplace and on employers. (2020, June 5). UN Women. https://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/1932-impact-on-the-workplace-and-on-employers.html

(2) Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence. (n.d.). National Resource Center. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.workplacesrespond.org/resource-library/

(3)//www.workplacefairness.org. (n.d.). Domestic Violence and the Workplace – Workplace Fairness. Workplace Fairness. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.workplacefairness.org/domestic-violence-workplace#7



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