Why Get The Tick?

Domestic violence may not at first appear to be a workplace issue. However international evidence shows those with a history of domestic violence have a more disrupted work history, change jobs more often and are employed at higher levels in casual and part-time work than those with no experience of violence.

Secure employment can improve victims’ finances, promote physical safety, increase self-esteem, improve social connectedness, and ‘purpose in life’. Furthermore, victims who had experienced domestic violence reported that the workplace acted as a respite from their perpetrators, providing important stretches of time where they had physical safety and could make plans to leave their abusive partner.

If victims do NOT get adequate support, they are more likely to stay with their abusive partner. This can result in serious occupational, health, safety, and economic consequences for both employees and workplaces.

Employers often never find out about employees who are being abused by an intimate partner. If they do find out, they often do not know how to respond, and do not have an HR policy to provide guidance. Hence, employees and their co-workers suffer, and so too does productivity.

Employers with effective policy and supports in place can make a huge difference in the lives of employees at a time of crisis. The benefit is retaining and showing support for your most valuable asset - your staff.

Not only can it make the workplace more productive and efficient, it demonstrates that you are a good corporate citizen by putting policy and supports in place to assist employees affected by domestic abuse.

Adrienne had worked for a large organisation for many years. She had been physically and emotionally abused by her husband for 20 years. He worked in the same complex, in a different department. She finally decided to leave. She knew about her employer’s domestic violence policy, so she talked to HR about her situation, knowing that she would be supported. HR referred her to the Shine Helpline, and immediately put in place a security plan. Her husband’s boss also instructed him that if he entered her department, he would potentially face instant dismissal. With support from her employer and from Shine, Adrienne managed to leave her husband and stay safe.

Jason worked as a waiter. His boyfriend became increasingly abusive after they moved in together. He beat up Jason on a regular basis, and left bruises where no one could see them. Jason rang Shine’s Helpline for support because his boyfriend was harassing him at work and he was in danger of losing his job. His boyfriend started by texting 20-30 times a day. After a few days, Jason stopped responding to every text, and his boyfriend began ringing 15-20 times a night. 

Other co-workers had to pick up the slack every time he took a call. Jason’s boyfriend occasionally came into the restaurant and sat at the bar keeping an eye on him, and once followed him into the kitchen to loudly accuse him of flirting with another employee. Jason’s boss told him that he needed to get his partner under control or risk losing his job. Jason was too ashamed to tell his boss what was going on at home, and thought his boss would not be supportive even if he told him. Although Shine was able to support Jason to leave his partner, the abuse at his workplace continued and some months later he was fired.

Anna was a highly skilled worker who got on well with her patients and colleagues, where she’d worked for 15 years. She began dating and moved in with a co-worker who soon became jealous, possessive and violent. Her boyfriend checked up on her at work throughout the day. She began coming in late or not at all. She was often preoccupied and forgetful. She was too ashamed to tell anyone what was going on, and feared she wouldn’t be believed. Her boss told her he didn’t want to lose her experience, but if she couldn’t improve her performance he would have to take action. This caused Anna greater stress and anxiety.

Eventually Anna was injured by her boyfriend, ended up in hospital and was referred to Shine. Shine helped Anna leave her boyfriend safely, but she felt terrified at work, never knowing when he would appear. Shine eventually helped Anne to relocate, which meant leaving her job. If she had been supported by her employer and kept safe at work, Anna may have found the strength to leave sooner, avoid injuries and an enormous amount of stress and trauma. She may have been able to keep her job and the organisation would have kept a highly skilled and experienced worker.

The manager of retail business got in touch with Shine to discuss his concerns that a valued employee was being abused and he didn’t know how to help. With coaching from Shine, he raised the issue with Donna, and offered to support her. He brought Donna to Shine where she shared her fear of leaving her partner because of his threats to kill her. Shine and her boss helped Donna put in place a number of safety strategies, including getting a Protection Order, serving her partner with a Trespass Notice for the workplace, moving her temporarily from front desk duties, making a photo of her partner available to her workmates so they could warn her if he came to the office, and accompanying her to and from her car.

The partner was arrested and released on bail. He was later arrested again, once for breaching the Trespass Notice when he was observed by a staff member. He finally left her alone after finding that she was no longer vulnerable to his abuse. Donna is still in the job that she loves, and her boss has a staff member who is more loyal and committed than ever.

As a victim of violence in the home, Rebecca found it difficult to get time off work while she was going through the process of leaving her abusive husband and trying to provide adequate support for her two young children through that difficult time. People in her workplace didn't understand what she was going through and saw her as an unreliable, emotional wreck. After many years of abuse, Rebecca finally left her husband with help from Shine.

According to Rebecca, “If my work had supported me through that time and given me paid leave when I needed it to deal with what was going on, I would have been in a better frame of mind and more focused on my job while I was at work. Instead, I made a lot of mistakes at work and wasn’t a very happy person to be around. A lot of things happened outside work, leaving my children and me mentally scarred because I didn’t have enough time and energy to get things sorted with our safety planning.”