How to spot domestic abuse in the workplace

An average of 2.3 million people in England and Wales endure domestic abuse every year. It’s very likely that someone you work with, or employ will experience abuse at some point in their lifetime.

The last few years has changed how we work, and many of us now work a hybrid pattern between home and the office. For those experiencing domestic abuse, these changes to the workforce have been particularly difficult to navigate. Those forced to work at home may have been further isolated from their support networks by their abuser. People returning to the office may be worried about how the abuse they’re experiencing will impact their new work routine.

Domestic abuse is still very much a hidden crime. Therefore, it’s important to know the sights and know to respond effectively and safely.

If your team are working remotely

If your team is continuing working virtually, it can be near impossible to spot the signs. However, if someone seems anxious or worries, or they never turn their camera on, it’s appropriate to be inquisitive about this. In addition, a sign might be a colleague experiencing continual IT issues, because their abuser has broken their work equipment to exert control.

If your team has returned to the office, it will be easier to spot more obvious signs of domestic abuse such as bruising or physical marks. Also, they may stay in the office until late in the evening or arrive early as their home is not a safe place for them to be.

If a colleague or employee has an increased number of sick days, and has become withdrawn, this can be an indication they are in an abusive situation.

How can I help?

If you are concerned a colleague or employee is experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact the Respond to Abuse Advice Line. This is a confidential support line where employers and colleagues can get advice on how to respond effectively to disclosures of domestic abuse, and signpost appropriate local specialist services. You can call the advice line on 07770480437 or 0203 8793695, or email