Western-led study shows domestic violence in Canada is significant workplace problem

A new study of domestic violence in Canada and its impact on the workplace has found more than one third of workers across the country have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, and for more than half of those affected, the violence followed them to work.

The study, led by Western University’s Faculty of Education, is the first of its kind to be conducted in Canada. Beginning in 2013, researchers at the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) started collecting data from more than 8,400 employed Canadians, over the age of 15, from every province and territory.

Results showed employees were dealing with abusive phone calls and text messages, stalking, harassment and abusive email messages, all while at work. In some instances abusers came directly to the employees’ workplace and harassed not only the individuals, but also their colleagues and co-workers.

“This study will erase the artificial boundary society has put in place between home and work lives,” says Barb MacQuarrie, the study’s lead and CREVAWC Community Director. “Issues from home show up in the workplace, whether we want them to or not, and we can no longer afford to ignore what might be happening in employees’ private lives.”

The study also showed a trend in the ways in which individuals experiencing domestic violence disclosed that fact to others. Of those who chose to discuss it with someone at work, more than 80 per cent chose to disclose their struggles to a co-worker.

“This points to the fundamental need we have in Canada to be educating not only managers and human resources professionals, but every single individual in the workplace to recognize and respond to domestic violence,” says MacQuarrie. “We need to have solid policies and programs in place because everyone from individuals, to communities, to the entire country will benefit from safer, healthier workplaces.”

The study “Can Work be Safe, When Home Isn’t?” was conducted in partnership with Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies and the Canadian Labour Congress.

Findings were released today at separate events at Western’s Faculty of Education (live-stream available starting at 10 a.m. http://www.livestream.com/westernu) and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The study is available on the Centre for Research and Education on Violence and Against Women and Children website at www.learningtoendabuse.ca

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99