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Intimate Partner
Abuse, Sexual Assualt and Trauma

If you are currently experiencing or have experienced a sexual assault or abuse in an intimate relationship, support is available. The Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free, confidential services to survivors of partner abuse and sexual assault. The EAP is committed to helping employees and their immediate household family members feel safe – in their homes, communities and workplaces. The EAP can also provide support and assistance to those concerned that a family member, friend, co-worker or employee is in an unsafe situation. If you need assistance, you can reach the EAP at 866-724-4327.

Does Your Partner Ever…

  • Blame you or call you names?
  • Scare you in any way?
  • Repeatedly make you late for or miss work?
  • Make it hard for you to see your friends or family?
  • Threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Check-up on you while you’re at work?
  • Force or pressure you to have sex?
  • Hit, slap, push or hurt you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are worried about someone close to you who may be experiencing abuse, EAP can help.

When You Need Support with Intimate Partner Abuse - How can the EAP Help?

EAP consultants are available to provide a variety of services to employees affected by partner abuse and sexual assault, including:

  • Advocacy and counseling
  • Safety planning for home and work
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Coordination with HAVEN (MGH), Passageway (BWH), The Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program (NWH), Crossroads (NSMC), Security and other internal resources when appropriate
  • With permission, consultation with managers, Human Resources or external agencies

 

Mass General Brigham Resources for those affected by Intimate Partner Abuse
Community Resources for Intimate Partner Abuse and Child Abuse
Helping Others Affected by Intimate Partner Abuse

Helping a Loved one or Friend Facing Intimate Partner Abuse

Are you worried about a co-worker, friend, or loved one who may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship?


Ask….Does Your Partner Ever:

  • Scare you in any way?
  • Call you names?
  • Repeatedly make you late for or miss work?
  • Not allow you to visit your friends or family?
  • Repeatedly call or check-up on you?
  • Threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Pressure or force you to have sex?
  • Hit, slap, push or hurt you?

What to Say:

  • I believe you.
  • You are not alone.
  • I’m worried about your safety (and the safety of your children).
  • I care about you, and I know how you can get help.
  • You don’t deserve to be hurt, you’ve done nothing wrong, this is not your fault.
  • Only you can decide what is best for you, but you could get support with safety planning in case you are ever in danger.
  • I can give you a number to call for help and advice.

What not to Say:

  • Why don’t you just leave?
  • Why did you return to your partner?
  • What did you do to provoke your partner?
  • Why did you wait so long to tell someone?
  • Don’t label them as “battered” or “abused.”
  • Don’t talk to the couple together about the abuse.
  • Don’t discuss your concerns with their partner.
  • Don’t tell them what they must do.
  • Don’t discuss their information with anyone else without their permission.

What Parents Need to Know About Teen Dating Abuse

Dating Abuse Can Take Many Forms

  • Verbal –  yelling, name-calling, put-downs
  • Emotional – blaming, spreading rumors, possessiveness
  • Psychological –  manipulation, mind games, guilt-tripping
  • Physical –  shoving, hitting, punching
  • Sexual –  unwanted touching

Myths and Facts

  • Oh, it’s not that serious
    More than 1 in 10 teens experience physical violence in a dating relationship
  • It only happens to kids from bad homes
    Dating abuse can happen in all types of homes, and in families of all cultures, income levels and educational backgrounds. Teen dating abuse is NOT limited to families with a history of violence
  • It can’t happen to my child
    Boys, as well as girls, can be victims of dating abuse. It can occur in any type of relationship – heterosexual, gay, or lesbian

Why Teens Don’t Tell Parents or Friends About the Abuse

  • They are afraid their parents will make them break up
  • They are embarrassed and ashamed
  • They are afraid of getting hurt by their partner
  • They are convinced that it is their fault or that their parents will blame them or be disappointed
  • They are confused—they may think this is what dating is all about
  • They are afraid of losing privileges like being able to stay out late

Teens May Be Unable to See the Abuse

  • They have little or no experience with healthy dating relationships
  • They believe being involved with someone is the most important thing in their life
  • They confuse jealousy with love
  • They do not realize they are being abused
  • They do not think friends and others would believe this is happening
  • They have lost touch with friends
  • They know that the abuser can act kind and loving at times

Warning Signs of Abuse

Some of the following changes are just part of being a teenager. But, when many of these changes happen suddenly, or without explanation, there may be cause for concern:

  • Sudden changes in clothes or make-up
  • Failing grades or dropping out of school activities
  • Avoiding friends
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Sudden changes in mood or personality, becoming secretive
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits, avoiding eye contact, excessive crying
  • Constantly thinking about dating partner
  • Constantly texting with partner, needing to respond immediately
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Bruises, scratches, burns, or other injuries
  • Unintended pregnancy because partner has pressured, coerced, or forced sex

Tips for Parents

  • It is never too early to teach self-respect. No one has the right to tell your teenager who to see, what to do, or what to wear. No one has the right to hit or control anyone else
  • Give your teenager a chance to talk. Listen quietly to the whole story
  • If you suspect that your teenager is already involved with an abusive partner, tell your teenager that you are there to help, not to judge.  If your teenager does not want to talk with you, help your teenager find another trusted person to talk with
  • Focus on your child; do not put down the abusive partner. Point out how unhappy your teenager seems to be while with this person
  • Get advice from teen dating violence prevention hotlines or domestic violence programs on how to support your child through an abusive relationship

What You Can Say to your Teen

  • I care about what happens to you. I love you and I want to help
  • If you feel afraid, it may be abuse. Sometimes people behave in ways that are scary and make you feel threatened – even without using physical violence. Pay attention to your gut feelings
  • The abuse is not your fault. You are not to blame; no matter how guilty the person doing this to you is trying to make you feel. Your partner should not be doing this to you
  • It is the abuser who has a problem, not you. It is not your responsibility to help this person change
  • It is important to talk about this. If you don’t want to talk with me, find someone you trust and talk with that person.  You can also talk to someone at a hotline who can help you sort things out

– Adapted from, “Teen Dating Violence,” Carole Sousa with Mass. Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics and Mass. Medical Society, and “Teen Dating Violence Resource Guide,” Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Intimate Partner Abuse Guidelines for Managers

Intimate Partner Abuse, often referred to as Domestic Violence, is characterized by a pattern of coercive control used by one intimate partner over the other, which may include sexual and physical assault, social isolation, economic, emotional and psychological abuse, threats and harassment to establish and maintain power and control.

General Guidelines

The following information is provided to help managers and supervisors interact with employees who have been impacted by Intimate Partner Abuse and to help those employees obtain the services they desire.  However, it is important to understand that an employee may not be ready to admit that she or he has been abused by a partner or family member and may choose not to discuss the topic. Managers and Supervisors should respect this decision but should give information about available resources in the Hospital and community (see resources at end of these guidelines). Like any personal problem, when we suspect that an employee is a victim of abuse, we focus on the job performance and suggest that they get help from a professional who has expertise in treating that particular problem.

Take precautions not to get overly involved; it will not be helpful to the employee, and may possibly put you, the employee and the workplace at risk. Use the Hospital’s resources for guidance: the EAP, Security, Human Resources or Occupational Health Services.

The intention of these guidelines is to provide support to supervisors in understanding available resources and referring employee for help.

Signs and Symptoms that Someone is Being Abused (Look for a pattern rather than one sign or symptom.)

  • repeated discussion of marital/relationship problems
  • flowers/gifts sent to employee at the workplace for no apparent reason
  • bruises, chronic headaches, abdominal pains, muscle aches
  • recurrent vaginal and bladder infections as reported by employee
  • vague, non-specific medical complaints
  • sleeping or eating disorders
  • increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • signs of fear, anxiety, depression
  • fatigue
  • intense startle reactions
  • difficulty in making decisions alone
  • suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • tension around receiving repeated personal phone calls
  • nightmares/flashbacks
  • tardiness, or very early arrival at work
  • unplanned or increased use of Earned Time or Paid Time Off
  • decline in job performance
  • unkempt or disheveled appearance


Guidelines for Managers if an Employee discloses Abuse:

  • Communicate your concerns for the employee’s safety. Communicate that you are concerned for the safety of her/his children if there are any.
  • Tell the employee that you believe her/him and that what is happening is wrong. No one deserves to be hurt. (The abuser may say, “You made me do it, it’s your fault.”)
  • Tell the employee that the EAP and Security can help with safety planning, based on the wishes and needs of the employee.
  • Be clear that your role is to try to help and not to judge. The employee needs to know that someone cares, will listen and can help her/him find the right resources.
  • Refer to the EAP as a resource with expertise in supporting employees who have experienced intimate partner abuse and have knowledge about services. If the employee chooses not to use the EAP, reiterate safety and refer to other Hospital and community resources.
  • Discuss concerns about the employee’s situation confidentially with the EAP for consultation and support as needed, with Security if there is a concern about workplace safety, or with Human Resources regarding Earned Time or Paid Time Off, leaves and performance issues.  Do not discuss the employee’s situation with anyone else without permission.

What Not to Say:

  • Why don’t you just leave?
  • What did you do to provoke your partner?
  • Why did you wait so long to tell someone?
  • Don’t use labels such as “battered” or “abused.”
  • Don’t tell the employee what she/he must do.

Do:

  • If possible, rework the employee’s work assignment or schedule to decrease stress.
  • Follow up to see how the employee is doing. Ask general questions such as “How are you doing?” “How are things going?
  • Respect the employee’s privacy, even if you think they are still in an abusive relationship.
  • Maintain your relationship as manager, not as counselor.

In order to avoid arousing an abuser’s suspicion, an employee may want to seek help during the workday. If possible, rearrange the work schedule so that there is time during lunch or breaks.

A victim may choose to stay in or return to an abusive relationship for many reasons such as fear for safety, economic survival, religious convictions or out of shame. As manager, it is not your place to counsel the employee or express frustration. Instead, the manager’s role is to refer the employee for help, if the employee is receptive to assistance.

—Adapted from the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Human Resources Guidelines for Managers

Recommended Readings on Intimate Partner Abuse
  • Bancroft, Lundy. Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can and Should Be Saved.
    Berkley, 2011.
  • Bancroft, Lundy. Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.
    Berkley Trade, 2003.
  • Bancroft, Lundy, and Silverman, Jay G. The Batterer As a Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics. SAGE Publications, 2002.
  • Evans, Patricia. The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond.
    Adams Media Corporation, 1996.
  • Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery.
    Basic Books, 1992, 1997.
  • Island, David, and Letellier, Patrick. Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence.
    Haworth Press Incorporated, 1991.
  • Jones, Ann, and Schechter, Susan. When Love Goes Wrong: What to Do When You Can’t Do Anything Right.
    HarperCollins Publishing, 1993.
  • King, Jeanne, PhD. All but My Soul: Abuse Beyond Control.
    Mind Matters Publishing, 2001.
  • Leventhal, Beth, and Lundy, Sandra eds. Same-Sex Domestic Violence: Strategies for Change.
    SAGE Publications, 2000.
  • Levy, Barrie. In Love and Danger: A Teen’s Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships.
    Avalon Publishing Group, 1998.
  • Levy, Barrie, and Occhiuzzo, Patricia Giggans. What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence.
    Avalon Publishing Group, 1995.
  • Loring Marti Tamm. Emotional Abuse: The Trauma and the Treatment.
    Jossey-Bass, Inc. Publishers, 1998.
  • Nicarthy, Ginny. Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life.
    Avalon Publishing Group, 1997.
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