While the signs below could be explained by something other than domestic violence, possible signs that a co-worker is being battered include:
- Bruises she may try to explain as being caused by an accident.
- Frequent or unexplained absences or lateness.
- Frequent personal phone calls that leave her upset.
- A decline in job performance — difficulty concentrating or working effectively.
- Withdrawal from co-workers.
Remember that despite severe on-the-job problems, the co-worker may be reluctant to talk about the abuse because she feels embarrassed or fearful. You might open the discussion by assuring her that the union is there to help and you understand that it is not always possible to separate one's personal life from one's working life. If she does want to confide in you, the previous section on, "What You Can Do To Support A Co-Worker Who Is Being Abused," may offer some helpful suggestions. Also offer to be her advocate to get the employer to make some accommodations to help her through the crisis. For example, she may need some time off or may need a temporary change in shift or work location.
If she is reluctant to confide in you, assure her you will still represent her. Encourage her to get help through the Employee Assistance Plan if you have one, or offer to help her tap into available community resources. Discourage any workplace gossip about her situation. Leave the door open to her if she wants to talk in the future.