Domestic Violence Follows Many Women to Work

A third of the workers surveyed had experienced domestic violence at least once in their lives. Just over half of these (53.8%) said that the violence followed them up to the workplace door and often inside it, too. Workers reported being stalked at or near the workplace by a violent ex-partner. They received abusive calls, texts, and e-mails at work, or their ex-partner contacted co-workers or supervisors.

The research is the result of a partnership between the Canadian Labour Congress and researchers at the University of Western Ontario. Almost 8,500 Canadian workers took part in a confidential on-line survey between December 2013 and June 2014.

Experiencing domestic violence can affect work performance, too. The workers who participated in the survey said that it impacted their ability to get to work and to do their job effectively. Almost a tenth of the workers surveyed said they lost a job as a result of experiencing domestic violence.

The survey revealed that women with disabilities, Aboriginal women, and women of a sexual orientation other than heterosexual experienced higher rates of violence. 

"This ground-breaking research is a shocking sign of how much work needs to be done to make workplaces safer and to change society's attitudes toward women," said Canadian National Director Ken Neumann. "The United Steelworkers is committed to joining with other unions to act on what we've learned from this research, the first of its kind ever done in Canada."

According to the survey, resources and support in the workplaces can make a difference in the lives of workers experiencing domestic violence.

"Unions must and will continue to do our part to end violence," Neumann continued. "But we need action from the federal government, too."

The Canadian Labour Congress has asked labour minister Kellie Leitch to convene a roundtable of unions, employers, and governments to discuss concrete solutions.

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