DIPV refers to any pattern of violent, threatening, dominating, coercive, or controlling behaviour committed by a current or former intimate partner (such as a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse), a family member or member of a household, or a person upon whom the victim depends (such as a caregiver). DIPV can take many different forms, including physical, psychological, financial, sexual, and spiritual abuse. DIPV can also include the deprivation of food, clothing, medical attention, shelter, transportation, or other necessities of life.

Anyone can be a victim of DIPV. Most often, women are the victims of abuse; however, DIPV can impact people of all gender identities, as well as people of all abilities, ages, sexual orientations, religions, and cultural backgrounds.

There are many warning signs that someone may be experiencing abuse. Examples include (but are not limited to): arriving late to the workplace or staying late at the workplace; trouble concentrating, following directions, or completing tasks; changes in productivity; wearing long sleeves, turtleneck tops, or makeup to cover bruises; and appearing nervous or flustered when receiving phone calls, emails, or visits from their partner.

There are many reasons for why the victim will stay in an abusive relationship:

  • In many situations, the abuser has engaged in a pattern of behaviour aimed at isolating the survivor, undermining their self-esteem and self-confidence and making them believe that they have no other friends or options; this can have the impact of making the idea of leaving the relationship impossible for the survivor to consider.
  • Survivors learn from the media and other sources that leaving the relationship can trigger an escalation of the violence, making it seem safer to remain in the relationship than to attempt to leave it.
  • In addition to the threat of murder of the survivor, abusers may threaten to kill themselves, their children, or their pets if the victim tries to leave. These are threats the survivor is conditioned to take seriously.
  • The victim may be financially dependent on their abuser, making leaving impossible.
  • The victim might be conditioned (by society, by the abuser or both) to blame themselves for the abuser’s behavior or to believe they deserve the abuse.
  • The victim believes they can change the abuser’s behaviour.
  • There are many more reasons and barriers to leaving or staying in an abusive relationship – please contact us for training to better understand how these impact survivors and how you can help.

If it is outside your role as an employer to counsel people, then you need to take the appropriate steps to help your employee find proper help and services. Simply stating that you are not a counsellor/therapist, etc. can cut off contact between you and your employee and they may feel unimportant or embarrassed about coming to you for help. Tell your employee that you will help them find counselling or other support services.

There are many different things that can be done to the workplace to make it a safer environment for employees. A few examples include: putting up posters in safe spaces such as washrooms or lunchrooms, creating safe walk programs or buddy systems, screening telephone calls or emails, and alerting security to any threats of violence by the abuser. See the fact sheets on Supportive Workplace Policies, Practices and Programs and Creating a Positive Workplace, as well as the Individualized Workplace DIPV Safety Plan template that can be used as a model and adapted as needed.

If you notice that an employee is using work hours or equipment to harass or be abusive towards their partner, or if they make threats to harm their partner, immediate action must be taken. Tell the employee that you are concerned about them (and their partner) and that you want to help them find the help or services they need. Avoid making judgments and do not argue with them about the abuse. If it is safe to do so, state to the employee that the abusive behavior needs to stop.

Workplace violence in a place of employment means the attempted or actual use of physical force against an employee, or any threatening statement or behaviour that gives an employee reasonable cause to believe that physical force will be used against the employee, and includes sexual violence, intimate partner violence and domestic violence.

DIPV in the workplace refers specifically to violence originating from the family, the home, or an intimate relationship that spills over into the work environment, whether in the form of a violent incident, or through the effects that experiencing DIPV has on an employee and the associated safety risks. 

See https://ohsguide.worksafenb.ca/topic/violence.html for more information on both. 

Workplace bullying is the repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. Workplace bullying is driven by the perpetrator’s need to control the victim, and involves hurting the victim or purposely withholding resources from the victim. Workplace bullying results in severe consequences for the victim and can undermine the legitimate interests or goals of the workplace.

A number of different laws, both federal and provincial, provide protection for employers and their employees when family violence enters the workplace. Employees should seek out a lawyer for specific advice, however, employers should also be aware of these laws. Employers can play an active role in enforcing these laws and on educating employees on their rights. Recently, the Government of NB introduced the Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Act. The Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Act provides victims of DIPV with additional tools to increase their safety while seeking permanent solutions. This act allows victims to apply to a designated official for a court order, without notice to the respondent, to obtain remedies to respond to their circumstances.

A full list of websites with information, services and training can be found on the It’s Your Business Resources page. It includes links to Support Services for Victims of Abuse in New Brunswick, the Love Shouldn’t Hurt Campaign and Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick, which provide a detailed Directory of Services for Victims of Abuse and one for abusers, and much more.

There are many ways DIPV can enter the workplace. The abuser could send threatening emails or messages to the victim at their workplace, they can constantly contact the workplace to monitor the victim, or in other instances, the abuser might show up at the workplace to humiliate or hurt the victim.

DIPV, when it enters the workplace, can impact employees’ productivity, lead to absenteeism, affect employee morale, and put everyone at risk. DIPV can also be costly to employers and workplaces. The annual cost of DIPV is an estimated 7.4 billion dollars. This includes services, housing costs, medical help, and court/justice services.

Yes! For more information on training options, please visit the Contact Us page to contact the Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence in the Workplace Committee.

When talking to someone who has experienced DIPV or other forms of trauma, it is important to consider the words and tone we use and how our questions are phrased. Avoid using harsh or judgmental language and be patient and aware of the timing of the conversation or of any physical signs of discomfort from the employee. It is important to understand the employee’s feelings and emotions. Let your employee take the lead, and let them choose what they are comfortable sharing. Do not let your own judgments or emotions interfere with how you approach your employee.

Very often, it is difficult for a victim to share information about the abuse. If you become aware of an employee who is being abused, tell them that you are concerned about their safety and that there are services available to them. Do not demand that they share information with you or appear judgmental or frustrated if they do not. It is important to keep the door open to opportunities for an employee to share, but if they are not ready to open up about the abuse, or if they do not wish to share information, then it is important to remain patient and supportive.

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