Awareness and Remembrance

Holiday Work Parties - One Thing to be on the Lookout For

December 01, 2016

Work holiday parties are a great way to end the year. They’re good opportunities to socialize with your co-workers and talk about things you might otherwise not get a chance to on a daily basis. They’re also a time where many employees bring spouses or partners to meet their coworkers. And while it can be fun and exciting to meet your co-worker’s partner, there might be something you should be on the lookout for that hasn’t even crossed your mind.

Signs of domestic abuse.

For many of us, this can seem unfathomable. It might be hard to believe that someone we know, someone we work closely with on a regular basis, is experiencing abuse at the hands of his or her partner. It’s easy enough to think that it would never happen to someone we know well. Yet when we understand that every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner and one third of Canadian workers will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, we realize that domestic abuse does happen and it can easily be happening to someone we know. Domestic violence is a serious issue we all need to be aware of and vigilant about, and co-workers are often in good positions to spot the warning signs.

Recent studies in Canada show that for the large majority (72%) of domestic violence cases that end up a woman being killed by her partner, there were seven or more risk factors present before the domestic homicide eventually occurred. Only very rarely (1% of total cases) are there no known risk factors before a woman is killed by her partner.

sign with exclamation mark. text reads: only very rarely 1 % of total cases are there no known factors before a women is killed by her partner

This means there are normally many warning signs that someone is being abused by their partner before it escalates to the tragedy of a murder. Along with a history of domestic violence, other risk factors include: impending or current separation, prior threats, obsessive or depressive behaviour by the perpetrator, prior threats to kill the victim, excessive alcohol or drug use by the perpetrator, and also unemployment of the perpetrator.

Many domestic homicides can be not only predicted, but also prevented.

What is the key? Earlier recognition and action.

As co-workers, we are often in the best situation to be able to recognize signs of domestic abuse and help take necessary action. Work holiday parties are also a time when many warning signs can appear, since partners often attend the parties and we get a closer glimpse into our co-worker or employee’s relationship with their partner.

Because of this, we need to be on the lookout for any possible risk factors and warning signs that someone we work with might be in an abusive relationship. Here are some common warning signs on what to look for during your holiday work party if you’re concerned that a co-worker or employee of yours might be experiencing abuse.

  • Your co-worker is very nervous and quiet talking when her partner is there
  • She seems sad, lonely or withdrawn
  • Her partner puts her down and acts superior
  • His or her partner seems to do all the talking, dominating the conversations
  • The partner acts possessive
  • Your co-worker seems afraid of her partner or of upsetting him


If you need more information on how to help a co-worker or employee you believe is being abused, visit our site for resources.