Employers can sometimes be flummoxed by the victims and survivors of domestic abuse that they employ. The stark contrast of strength and weakness is confusing even to victims and survivors themselves, so there’s no doubt that those on the outside who have not experienced it personally would find it perplexing if not more so.

Because there are no easy answers behind the complex behaviours that feed the abuse cycle, focusing on creating an environment of safety and support within your business will likely do more for your employees than seeking understanding.

Due to their co-dependent tendencies they tend to be excellent employees overall, but sometimes their personal lives can cross over into their work life. This can often create tension with their co-workers and you, as the boss. While professionalism is important, having a compassionate heart and some degree of flexibility can go a long way towards ensuring your business is a safe place for healing and recovery.

You may not need or want to do anything directly for employees that you know or suspect may be dealing with domestic abuse issues. Victims and survivors alike tend to like to remain hidden and anonymous about their personal issues. While many speak out, it’s only a fraction of those who have had similar experiences. Therefore, you’ll want to keep advise and interventions generalized rather than directed at an individual employee.

Display posters speaking out against family violence with contact information for local services. This is a low key but effective way to promote a message of acceptance and hope for victims and survivors. Many survivors say that seeing the  “Duluth Power and Control Wheel” was instrumental in understanding that their relationship was abusive. See if you can find a place in your business, whether it’s a break room or bathroom to display public service announcements. These are often available for free through local shelters, but it is recommended that you make a donation to help defray the costs involved in printing.

Support Local Domestic Violence Awareness Campaigns and Fundraisers loudly, publicly & often. This is a benefit packed strategy that allows you to do good, attract potential publicity coverage and send a strong message to employees that may be enduring intimate partner violence about your stand on the issue. They’ll also be exposed to the literature and events that are inevitable with such involvement.

Provide Stealth Survival Training If you have a budget for training, you may want to allocate some of your training and personal development funding towards programs that will help everyone, but that will be especially useful for victims and survivors. Such topics might include:

  • Assertiveness
  • Boundaries
  • Meditation

Your local violence crisis and resource centre is likely to have many more ideas on how to create a safe environment for victims and survivors that you can adapt for your business. Showing this kind of caring and insight into your employees health and well-being tends to pay off in loyal employees and customers. A happy business is a profitable one.

As a survivor is there anything you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear your comments below…


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