Skip to Main Content
print small medium large 


For the workplace

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. Speak Up!

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/contacts

  • works 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?," can help. If the colleague doesn't want to talk right away continue to show that you do care.

  • If they do want to talk, listen with compassion.

  • Respect their privacy.

  • Believe what they say.

  • Let them know that no one ‘deserves' such treatment and they are not responsible for an abuser's behaviour.

  • Make sure they are safe. Never minimize the danger by assuming anything the victim does will affect the abuser's behaviour.

  • Encourage them to get help to protect themselves and others affected by the abuse.

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 you can do include:

  • 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.

  • using a top-down - union leadership and company management - commitment 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 from violence and 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.

Links of Interest:

Workplace Safety Program (Prince Edward Island)
This program is designed to increase awareness about what family violence is, what each of us can do, and where to go for help. It includes a manual of best practices for the workplace.

Family Violence: It's Your Business - A Workplace Toolkit (New Brunswick)

Family Violence and the Workplace: an Employer's toolkit (Manitoba)

Make It Our Business (Ontario)

Worksafe BC- Domestic Violence in the Workplace (British Columbia)

back to top