• Physical abuse – if the complainant is being physically injured by the respondent, for example, being punched, kicked or pushed.
  • Sexual abuse – if the complainant is being forced by the respondent to perform a sexual act, for example, the respondent may force the complainant to have sexual intercourse with him/her.
  • Emotional and psychological abuse – if the respondent verbally insults or humiliates the complainant, for example, calling him/her offensive names.
  • Economic abuse – if the complainant suffers financial damages caused by the respondent, for example, where the respondent sells household property or uses a joint bank account for personal use without the consent of the complainant.
  • Intimidation, harassment or stalking – if the respondent repeatedly follows and watches the complainant, or where the respondent makes unwanted telephone calls or sends unwanted emails and text messages to the complainant.
  • Property damages – if the respondent damages any property that belongs to the complainant.
  • Trespassing – if the respondent enters the complainant’s home or property without his/her consent.

Source: https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/quicklaw-guides/domestic-violence-protection-orders

Some common signs of domestic violence include:

  • The victim’s partner criticises, berates, or disparages the victim in front of other people.
  • The victim is constantly worried about making his or her partner angry.
  • The victim makes excuses for his or her partner’s behaviour or justifies the abuse as somehow deserved.
  • The victim’s partner is extremely jealous, constantly suspicious, or possessive.
  • The victim has unexplained marks or injuries.
  • The victim has stopped spending time with friends and family.
  • The victim is depressed or anxious, or you notice significant changes in his or her personality.

There are additional signs of domestic violence that managers may observe in a victimised employee during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • The abuser uses the pandemic as a scare tactic to keep the victim at home and isolated from others.
  • The abuser withholds essential items, such as food, toiletries, masks, or sanitizers.
  • The victim has unexplained changes in behaviour such as an unreasonable refusal to participate in remote team video conferencing.
  • There are indications that the abuser is listening or monitoring work communications.
  • The language, style, or tone of the employee’s correspondence has changed, indicating that the abuser is reading or editing the victim’s work.

As remote work and videoconferencing continues, advocacy organisations have developed a single-hand gesture to alert co-workers, family and friends that an individual is at risk.

Source:  https://www.care.com/c/stories/16885/secret-hand-signal-domestic-abuse/ 

How EAPs can assist in cases of domestic violence

EAPs have a multi-functional role to play when it comes to helping manage, minimise and support the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. They can act as both a counselling and information resource, and reference point, to help raise awareness of the issue among employees who may be victims, as well as supporting the managers and colleagues of those who may be affected by this abuse.

  • EAP practitioners can be essential in providing training for managers and HR professionals on how to recognise the signs of domestic violence.
  • EAP programmes can address domestic violence more openly among colleagues by raising awareness and providing vital information.
  • By promoting awareness of domestic violence and the EAP services available to victims, employers can make it safe to talk about.
  • Closing the information gap is especially important for workers who may wish to reach out to help another worker who they suspect is in crisis as their intervention has the potential to backfire and cause more harm than good.
  • An EAP practitioner can offer guidance on how to approach employees who may be at risk, and provide resources for help with various personal situations in their benefit offerings.
  • EAPs can connect employees with referrals to help them get an order of protection, support services and domestic violence shelters.

Encourage employees’ utilisation of EAP services. Encourage leaders who have used services to share their experiences. Invite a therapist who is part of the EAP network to explain how EAP counselling works.


  1. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/domestic-violence-workplace-nfl-ray-rice.aspx
  2. https://www.asisonline.org/security-management-magazine/latest-news/online-exclusives/2020/covid19-rise-in-domestic-violence/
  3. https://compeap.com/when-domestic-violence-comes-to-work/
  4. https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employers-have-responsibilities-to-victims-of-domestic-violence
  5. https://digitally.cognizant.com/a-corporate-lifeline-for-domestic-violence-victims-codex6256
  6. https://safety.networkrail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/UK-EAPA-domestic-violence-factsheet.pdf

by EAPA-SA | Jul 1, 2021 | Articles