General Information

Suggestive signs at work of an abusive home relationship

  • bruises or injuries without explanation or no feasible explanation
  • excessive tardiness
  • unexplained absences/use of sick time
  • changes in appearance – unkempt, disheveled
  • seems fearful, anxious or depressed
  • intense startle reaction
  • eating or sleeping problems
  • increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • frequent phone calls from partner
  • disruptive personal visits from partner
  • chronic, vague medical complaints
  • chronic headaches, abdominal or pelvic pain
  • preoccupation/lack or concentration
  • difficulty making decisions

How to approach co-worker

  • approach in a private and confidential manner
  • explain what you have noticed and that you are concerned – “I've noticed x,y,z and am concerned about you. Is there something going on you'd like to talk about?”
  • if s/he denies, don’t push the issue
  • let her/him know that you are available to talk anytime

How to be supportive

  • see “How to Respond” if s/he says yes
  • be patient, be a good listener
  • help co-worker focus on strengths
  • encourage her/him to seek help from
  • help her/him speak with supervisors and security about situation
  • help her/him make a safety plan
  • help her/him store an emergency bag from a safety checklist
  • assist in whatever way s/he finds most helpful  – screening calls, accompanying her/him out to lunch, etc.
  • limit information given out about co-worker over phone, such as where s/he is and time of return
  • maintain confidentiality
  • respect your co-worker's decisions - on average, women leave abusive relationships 5 times before they finally leave; this is a complex issue, and you cannot know all of the factors involved - be non-judgmental
  • the majority of women who leave an abusive relationship do not go on to have another abusive relationship

[Adapted from excellent “Employee Domestic Violence Policy and Procedure” ]

Employees & Abuse

Employees who live in an abusive home atmosphere bring these troubles to work – by effects on their health, and by phone, email or physical harassment at the workplace. This can lead to:

  • Decreased productivity, attendance and job retention
  • Increased physical disability
  • Increased risk to co-workers


What Can You Do at Work?

If you are in an abusive relationship, or are being stalked:

  • Make copies of emails
  • Record voice messages
  • Transfer harassing phone calls to security
  • Keep a list of harassing events
  • Ask security for escort to and from parking lot
  • Find out about restraining orders at California Court Sefl Help Center
  • Have restraining order include workplace; bring a copy of restraining order to medical center security, along with a picture of the abuser