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Workplace protections for domestic abuse victims: part two

Last week we introduced some employment concerns that may be faced by domestic violence victims who are leaving abusive relationships. You may wonder what you are required to tell your boss, or what kind of protection you can expect in the workplace. Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy and takes a great deal of courage - to a lesser extent, the same may be true of talking with your HR rep.

Abusers often instill in their victims a sense of shame and a lack of self-worth. It is completely normal to feel reticent about discussing your situation with an HR representative or supervisor but it is important to keep in mind that they can help you and they will most likely want to.

If you are leaving an abusive relationship, you will likely have a protective order or no-contact order in place that prevents your abuser from contacting you. Because this order will likely apply to your place of employment as well, consider telling your employer about it. They may ask for a photo of your ex for building security or put extra filters on your email account to prevent unwelcome contact.

It is wise to have this conversation sooner rather than later so you and your employer can work together before a situation arises. Be clear about your needs but also try to understand that your employer needs you to perform your job while you're at work. A leave of absence may be a good idea to allow you to get some stability before returning to work after this difficult time.

An advocate at a shelter for domestic violence victims can also be a great resource. They deal with this situation regularly and can be cognizant of your needs and your employer's.

Source: CBS News, "What do you tell your boss when you're leaving your abuser?" April 8, 2013

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