Workers Who Use Abusive Behaviour at Home Impact the Workplace Too

The results are finally in, and we hope you’ll find them eye-opening and enlightening!

Last year, we launched a survey to -domestic violence offenders about how their experiences impact the workplace, because we had a lot of pressing questions following from our groundbreaking pan-Canadian study on domestic violence in the workplace, titled “How can work be safe, if home isn’t?” 

Our main questions could be distilled into these three points:

How much time and work productivity was lost to domestic violence (DV)?

How prevalence was DV perpetration in the workplace?

How were workplaces responding to these issues?

To get to the bottom of this, we surveyed 352 people from Partner Assault Response programs from June 2015 to August 2016 across Ontario. Our interviews revealed very candid and impactful statements from people who had to go to work while they were responsible for domestic violence at home.  One participant confided that enduring domestic violence at work made them “…overcome by sadness, feeling helpless, and under a lot of stress. Losing focus on what I was doing. Choking back tears. Insomnia. Hard to concentrate.”   Another reflected on the impact on their work, saying, “A big realization is that domestic violence is a big issue. I believe that it is embarrassing to talk about, much more so talking about it at work. I feel like I’m looked at as less of a person because people at work can sense my distress.”

While we discovered several takeaways from our interviews, here are our top five notable findings from the survey:

Finding 1:

Almost half of respondents reported that DV issues sometimes, often, or very often negatively affected their job performance.

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Finding 2:

About one of every ten reported that they caused or almost caused a work accident from being distracted by DV issues.

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Finding 3:

More than seven out of every ten respondents reported being in contact with their partner during work hours to continue a conflict, emotionally abuse them, and/or monitor their whereabouts.  That meant they were constantly pre-occupied with their abuse and didn't give full attention at work.

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Finding 4:

One-quarter of respondents reported losing their job as a direct or indirect (e.g. too many missed days, poor productivity) result of DV issues.

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Finding 5:

Between 40% and 50% of respondents reported that the climate of their workplaces was closed, unsupportive, and unfair when it came to dealing with DV issues.

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From the two quotes we shared along with these five stats, it’s undeniable that workplaces are not immune to the repercussions of domestic violence.  This means that employers need to make a concerted effort to accommodate their workers who are suffering from abuse, be it a victim or the perpetrator.  Whether or not that means drafting formal policies or making employees attend a workshop to understand how they can help, every step an employer takes could make a compelling difference to someone on their team.

Look out for our comprehensive summary report on our survey in Spring 2017.  In the meantime, what finding surprised you?