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Signs of family and domestic violence

Key takeaways

  1. Anyone can experience family and domestic violence, however, women are more likely to be affected than men. 
  2. Family and domestic violence is estimated to affect 800,000 working women in Australia.  
  3. Family and domestic violence is a serious threat to physical and mental health and well-being of victim-survivors. 
  4. You can learn some common signs of family and domestic violence so that you can offer to help a victim-survivor. 

Did you know: 

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have experienced intimate partner violence in Australia (ABS, 2023). 
  • Women are more likely than men to experience violence, emotional abuse and economic abuse from a cohabiting partner.  
  • In Australia, an estimated 3.8 million people aged 18 and over have experienced violence (physical and/or sexual) by an intimate partner or family member since the age of 15 (ABS, 2023). 
  • Family and domestic violence is estimated to affect 800,000 working women in Australia. (Cortis & Bullen, 2016). 

Impacts of family and domestic violence 

Family and domestic violence poses a serious threat to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of victim-survivors.  

  • It is the primary health risk for Australian women aged 15 to 44 years (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). 
  • It results in physical injuries, anxiety, depression, impaired social skills, and engagement in self-destructive behaviours. 
  • It makes it difficult for victim-survivors to gain and keep paid employment. Victim survivors generally have a more disrupted work history, receive lower incomes, and are often in casual and part-time employment.  
  • It is a leading cause of homelessness for women and their children. 

Common feelings that are experienced during this time 

  • Fear 
  • Grief 
  • Shame 
  • Anger 
  • Panic. 

Signs that your employee might be experiencing family and domestic violence  

Changes in behaviour, appearance, and work habits may be signs that your employee is experiencing FDV. This may look like:  

  • Often being late or not coming to work. 
  • Having trouble concentrating. 
  • Making mistakes that surprise you. 
  • Changes to the quality or quantity of their work. 
  • Injuries such as bruises, black eyes and broken bones. 
  • Changes to their dress or makeup to hide injuries.  
  • Unconvincing explanations for how the injuries occurred. 
  • Showing signs of emotional distress, such as: 
    • unusual quietness
    • increased isolation from coworkers
    • unusual or repeated emotional upset during or following contact with their partner. 
  • Jumpiness or tearfulness. 
  • Making suggestions that a former or current partner is making unwanted contact with them. 
  • Receiving an unusual number of emails, texts or phone calls. 
  • An abrupt change of address. 
  • Unwelcome visits or frequent visits to the workplace by their partner. 
  • They have a strong negative reaction if their partner visits the workplace. 
  • Limited access to money (e.g., no ATM card, or a tight financial allowance). 
  • Restrictions on where or when they can travel or work, or who they can connect with (e.g., they are not able to attend events after hours or at certain locations or take part in social activities with work colleagues). 

What should you do? 

If you notice any of the above in an employee, and they’re out of character, it’s good to check in and ask if they’re ok.  

You can learn some tips for how to talk to your employees in the Tips for talking to your employee page.  

Want more information?  

1800RESPECT is the national service is for anyone impacted by domestic and family violence, including employers. Call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or chat online via the website. The service is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for information, counselling and referrals.   

For further advice about your workplace rights or information about how to deal with workplace disputes, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman and visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's Paid family and domestic leave page

You can find more information on where to get support on the Referral pathways for employees experiencing family and domestic violence page.

For further advice on family and domestic violence see 1800RESPECT or call 1800 737 732.

For further advice about your workplace rights or information about how to deal with workplace disputes, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman or call 13 13 94.