Do you know a coworker who
- makes plans and then cancels
- receives multiple calls, texts or emails
- always has an excuse for not being able to do activities outside of work
- frequently takes sick days
- is picked up and dropped off by her significant other
- has addiction problems
- is in an on-again/off-again relationship
- has a significant other who in social or work situations makes “jokes” that shame, humiliate, demean or embarrass her
- has told you no one in her family likes her significant other
- has a relationship that progressed very quickly
- has told you her friends and family have stopped talking to her
- changes her mood after speaking with her significant other
These are all signs of domestic abuse. NOT necessarily domestic violence, but emotional, verbal and possibly financial abuse. The more obvious domestic violence signs would include the coworker who comes in with a black eye, bruises, or a broken bone and laughs about how clumsy she is.
These signs of domestic abuse are a compilation of domestic violence education and real life clients of mine. I was seeing one of my clients at her work because she was only allowed to drive to work and then home and he checked the miles every day. She also had to “check in” with him on her work computer every 30 minutes to prove she was at work. Another client, a surgical nurse, would be totally focused on her job and enjoying her coworkers, but then check her text messages on break and her whole mood would change. One of my clients told me she used to accept invitations from coworkers to meet up for dinner or drinks, but then would have to cancel because her husband was too upset. She would then go home, only to spend the evening with him giving her the silent treatment.
Sure, one of these signs doesn’t mean a woman is in an abusive relationship, as there may be other reasons. But it is something to be aware of and maybe be a little curious. The next time you feel yourself feeling annoyed by their behavior, try to talk to them about what you’re noticing and let them know you care. You don’t have to fix her situation or be her therapist, just let her talk and let her know there are people who can help. Domestic abuse is fueled by silence and secrecy. Don’t be afraid to bring it up, you could be saving a life.