Domestic Violence Warning Signals

April 1, 1995
People living with domestic violence may not talk about it, but they do show signs that HR people should be aware of. Some of the warning signals are:

Repeated physical injuries. An abused person may show up with a broken finger one month and a bruised arm the next, both of which she explains away.

A person who's being abused might be quiet and refuse to make acquaintances or friends at work. She may always eat lunch alone and will rarely talk unless someone speaks to her first.

Emotional distress.
An abused person may be found crying at work or be very anxious.

Despondence or depression.
Everyone may feel this way once in a while, but where there's a pattern there's probably a problem. The person will show no affect, have no intonation in her voice.

An abused person's quality of work will vacillate for unexplained reasons. She may have a few weeks when everything is fine, then the quality of her work may suddenly diminish for no apparent reason.

Reaction to phone calls.
If she is being beaten, she may also be receiving a lot of harassing phone calls or faxes. She becomes physically upset with each call.

Domestic violence leads to frequent medical problems and fears about leaving children home alone with the abuser.

SOURCE: Jude Miller, domestic violence therapist for five years and director of operations for United HealthCare's OPTUM Medical and Human Risk Management Services.

Personnel Journal, April 1995, Vol. 74, No. 4, p. 65.