In spite of the myth that family violence should remain private, silence is no longer acceptable. People who abuse and people who are abused live and work among us. It is our responsibility to help where we can.
Family violence prevention is a workplace issue.
Unless a colleague tells you, you may not know whether or not he or she is being affected by violence. However, here are some signs that abuse is a factor in someone's life:
- frequent injuries, explained by statements like, "I'm clumsy," or "I'm accident prone"
- upsetting phone calls or contacts
- working late to delay going home
- frequent absenteeism (to recover)
- unusually quiet, nervous or jumpy
- noticeable change in work habits
- reluctance to attend staff social events
How individuals can help
If you suspect a colleague is living with abuse there are things you can do to help. Begin by educating yourself about family violence, the forms it can take and the dynamics of abuse.
- Show your concern. Saying something as simple as "Something seems to be going on with you. Can I help?" If your colleague doesn't want to talk right away continue to show that you care.
- If your co-worker wants to talk, listen with compassion.
- Respect your co-workers' privacy.
- Believe what a co-worker says.
- Let your colleague know that no one ‘deserves' such treatment and that an individual is not responsible for an abuser's behaviour.
- Make sure your co-worker is safe. Never minimize the danger by assuming anything the victim does will affect the abuser's behaviour.
- Encourage your co-worker to get the help and protection necessary to keep everyone safe who is affected by the abuse, including the victim.
How employers can help
Employers can help build a supportive work environment for those who live with abuse. Providing employees with education and information on available help and resources plays an important role in abuse prevention. Others things that an employer can do includes:
- understanding that family violence does affect workplace safety and security.
- being aware that violence affects both the productivity of both men and women. Yet, know that women are most often the victims of violence. You may have both offenders and victims working for you.
- making a top-down commitment, including union leadership and company management, to address violence prevention and victim safety.
- organizing awareness and education programs during business hours. Staff of employee assistance and counseling programs can also help employees with violence prevention.
- focusing on policies that support personal safety and protection from violence as well as policies that support workers who are experiencing abuse.
- providing and posting resource materials for employees and supervisors.
- modeling, using and enforcing written zero tolerance workplace policies and procedures against violence, harassment and discrimination.
Legal requirements of PEI workplaces
The Employment Standards Act of PEI provides an employee with pay for up to three days (3) and up to an additional seven days (7) without pay to deal with the consequences of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or sexual violence. Visit www.princeedwardisland.ca for details.
Make It Your Business
The Make It Your Business video series offers practical examples of how to recognize the signs of family violence in workplaces and public places and how to safely take action as a neighbour, friend, family member or co-worker.
This video shows an example of what to do when an unpleasant, mean or threatening comment is posted on a social media page for a work-related social event.
- Addressing Family Violence: A Guide for PEI Workplaces [PDF]
- Make It Your Business (PEI)
- Make It Our Business (Ontario)