Depression and domestic abuse often walk hand in hand with each other, therefore it is vitally important that anyone who is suffering has access to the correct support and advice.  Here at Next Chapter we aim to ensure that our staff who may be affected by domestic abuse are supported to live in safety, free from abuse & fear so that they can reach their potential and lead healthier and happier lives. It is our wish to open up this conversation to all employers to understand how depression in relation to domestic abuse can affect the workplace.

Traumatic stress experienced during domestic abuse leads to fear and isolation, which in turn, can lead to depression.

Domestic abuse happens across all social backgrounds and cultures and causes lifelong harm to victims and their children. Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse.

So, what are the signs that employers or colleagues can look out for in terms of their staff being depressed or a victim of domestic abuse

  • Changes in behaviour including uncharacteristic withdrawal, depression, anxiety, distraction or problems with concentration.
  • Changes in the quality of work for no apparent reason.
  • Arriving late or leaving early
  • Reduced attendance or increased sick leave or high presenteeism without an explanation.
  • Needing regular time off for appointments.
  • Taking frequent or excessive calls during work time from a partner.
  • Repeated injuries or unexplained bruising or explanations that do not fit with the injuries.
  • Substance use/dependence
  • Inappropriate or excessive clothing (that might be hiding injuries or bruising)

It is not easy to spot the signs, or to start a conversation with someone you think may be depressed or being abused, but having an awareness is a start. A start to think about what can be done to give a much-needed life line to anyone suffering in silence in any workplace.

Incidents of domestic abuse are common and have a serious impact on those who experience it. Studies have consistently demonstrated the prevalence of domestic abuse, with an estimated 1-in-4 women experiencing DA at some point in her life. Despite this, its effects and costs within the workplace remain largely hidden and unidentified by most employers. Research has shown that a significant proportion of women who experience domestic abuse had to take time off work. Many other women also reported symptoms that had a long-term effect on their work performance such as depression, anxiety or stress.

On average a woman will experience 35 episodes of domestic abuse before seeking help (Jaffe et al 1986). It can therefore be very difficult for an employee who experiences domestic abuse to tell people at work about their situation, or to approach their manager with their problems.

It may also be possible that colleagues identify domestic abuse through changes in behaviour or comments made by somebody that they work alongside. The employee may choose to discuss this with the individual or, if they do not feel able to do this, they should alert their manager to their concerns.