Should We Create Workplace Domestic Violence Procedures?

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domestic violence is mostly hidden but learning the signs will enable you to help those who shouldn't have to live with itJessica Bruzzaniti moved to NYC to progress her art career and establish a life in New York City. Little did she know her personal and professional worlds would collide in an unexpected way, as no one expects to find themselves in a domestic violence situation.

On her Mind of a Mentor episode, Jessica discusses how she handled a domestic incident when it was clear she would have to inform her employer.

Fortunately, her employer handled the situation in a sensitive and understanding manner, which made her life a lot easier. However, not all employers have the training or experience to know how to handle such a delicate topic. Here are some insights on how to handle a domestic violence incident in the workplace.

Team Organization is Key

As an organization it’s important that domestic violence is viewed within the right lens. For starters, surveying employees on how to handle domestic incidents provides insight on how they view the issue. This takes a firm commitment from your company’s executives on down. Developing a policy by working directly with legal to gain an understanding of current domestic violence protocols is also a great way to band your team together. This includes paid/unpaid leave, medical/legal proceedings and privacy.

It takes a team effort to look after one another. Make sure you gather insights from all departments on how to handle things.  

Offer Employee Training on Domestic Violence

Employers can train team leads on how to recognize and react to signs of domestic violence. Team leads are not allowed to address domestic violence suspicions, unless an employee voluntarily shares the issue. Employers can then direct the employee to domestic violence support groups. This provides the right resources and assistance as they face a very delicate circumstance.  

Mandatory group training can help reduce victim shame and the feeling of being singled out. The victim won’t feel isolated if everyone has to participate. Confidentiality is critical as there are many delicate situations like workplace restraining orders and privacy protection. Employees should feel comfortable sharing any issue by knowing their privacy will be protected.  A carefully defined flow of information will help provide a sense of comfort.

All in all, it’s okay to admit that it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, but facing it head on with sensitivity and without fear is necessary.

Domestic Violence Training

The topic isn’t comfortable for anyone to discuss. With the right training, you can help employees recognize potential problems and give them them the tools to help their peers learn:

  • How to respond with sensitively and confidentially
  • How to communicate with a victim or a perpetrator
  • Training on how to handle security procedures and others safety measures

When An Employee Reveals They’re in An Abusive Relationship

When an employee is in an abusive relationship, it can affect job performance. When employees trust their boss enough to share their problems, it will reduce their stress as they no longer have to hide what’s happening. Here are ways management can help:

  • Communicate your concerns with  the employee’s safety in mind
  • Tell the employee that you support them. Make sure to listen!
  • Refer the employee to domestic violence support and resources
  • Help, don’t judge! It’s important to keep an open mind
  • Consult with security staff if there are any workplace safety concerns

A Safe Place

Employers should let employees know that they will not be punished for seeking help. Establishing the workplace as a safe haven is critical towards keep everyone out of harm’s way. Be aware, careful and proactive when approaching domestic violence situations. Whether you see an abusive relationship first hand or not, it can happen to anyone.

For more on how Jessica handled adversity, please check to listen to our podcast where Jessica shares her story. It’s part of our Mind of a Mentor podcast series.

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