If someone is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, breaking up can be complicated. It’s hard for people to talk about, let alone tell their work. But if your co-worker or employee is in the middle of this kind of breakup, you can help keep them safe by being part of their support system.
First, like helping anyone in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, let them know that you are there for them. They are coming to you because they feel you can support them and play a role in their safety. Honor that by acting like a trustworthy and supportive co-worker. Avoid judging the situation, them or their partner. And work with them to create a safety plan.
Does your workplace have policies on what to do in this case? If you’re a co-worker, you may want to ask if you can refer them to a friendly manager who can assist with explaining that company policy. If you’re the employer, talk to them about their options. You may be able to grant them time off for court hearings or counseling.
If they tell you what their partner looks like, be on the lookout so you can keep them out of the workplace. Don’t reveal personal information like their work schedule -- the abusive partner could show up unannounced or use it as a way to keep tabs on your employee. If they have a protection order against their abuser, you can then help enforce it by calling the police if the abusive partner shows up.
Jobs with security are an asset in situations like these -- that security guard can help prevent the abuser from coming into the workplace or walk your worker in and out of the building.
You may not want to lose a great employee, but if your company has additional job sites (say, you’re the manager of a Starbucks), you can suggest a relocation. Depending on the company, it usually does not affect their work status. This work makes it difficult for their abusive partner to find them and helps to keep your workplace safe. Does your state consider domestic violence a good cause to leave a job? If it comes to this, let them know that if they have to leave, they may qualify for unemployment benefits.