Advice? Awkward horrible situation

Background information, spoilered for those in a hurry:

[spoiler]With the onset of quarantine in Pennsylvania, my business was deemed essential, but changes in the method of operation and decreased demand led to my laying off everyone except for one employee. We have worked together since.

So, my employee (Kim) is ~25 years old, single, and has two kids ages 3 and 5. She and kids’ father have some sort of custody agreement, although they have never been married. He sees the kids sporadically, and when he does Kim invariably suffers some domestic abuse, often physical.

I know this from what other employees have told me. Kim has never mentioned what she has gone through to me. Last year she needed a day off to attend a hearing. He had given her a black eye and sprained elbow and shoulder. She couldn’t afford a lawyer, but did paperwork to get a PFA court order. Unfortunately she got the wrong judge, and he just reprimanded her, saying he wouldn’t stop the kids from seeing their dad and she needed to figure out how to get along with him.

A few months later it happened again, but this time she got a lawyer and filed charges. He was found guilty and sentenced to time served, classes, a fine, and probation.[/spoiler]

Current situation:
Kim (an employee) came into work on Monday with horrible bruises on her upper arm. She is very thin, her upper arm is about as big around as my thumb. I initially assumed she was injured doing some sort of outdoor activity, but then I realized that was silly. You can practically see fingerprints. Either someone saved her from falling off a building, or else someone hurt her intentionally.

On Monday she wore short sleeves, but she has since worn long sleeves although it has been >90 degrees outside. I haven’t said a thing, since it isn’t my place. I’ve mentioned a few times that she has been doing a great job (she loves her job) and yesterday I went out and picked some lunch up for us.

So, advice? I * think* I’ve done what I should in a situation like this, but I don’t know. I keep thinking about my daughter who is 4 years older than Kim. I’d want someone to do something to help my kid if she were in a similar situation. Then again, I don’t want to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.:frowning:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I don’t think you should go directly to the authorities, but I think you need to have a Serious Talk with her. You’re right to think that you’d want someone to help your kid…be that someone.

Perhaps you can gather together a list of resources for her to contact if she doesn’t want to go right to the police. Don’t just write them down and slip them in her lunchbox, though. Actually TALK to her and DISCUSS the issues with her, and find out what her fears about the situation are (I assume they involve her kids). Let her know you want to help, for real, but first she has to decide she wants help. And when she’s considering it, you’ll have those resources handy.

Is dickwad still on probation? If so, it appears that he obviously violated it. Encourage her to report it to his probation officer.

Does he also hurt the kids? If so, she should seek to have his parental rights dissolved and get restraining order against this douchebag.

Ouch. I would do anything feasible to help her, but I don’t want to invade her privacy either. Asking for advice was my attempt to do something.

Is dickwad still on probation? If so, it appears that he obviously violated it. Encourage her to report it to his probation officer.

Does he also hurt the kids? If so, she should seek to have his parental rights dissolved and get restraining order against this douchebag.

Work is over today. I left an hour open tomorrow morning, so I’ll talk to her then. First I need to ask if she wants to discuss the situation with me. We’ve never talked about it, everything I know has come from her coworkers prior to the pandemic.

I know that the last time she got popped in the eye, she was holding her son and the potential for him to have gotten hurt (physically) was a big deal to her.

I haven’t spoken to her yet out of respect for her privacy. Am I in the wrong in being concerned about that?

One other pice of information. She lives with her dad. The fact that he hasn’t killed the guy weighs heavy on me. She has a good relationship with him afaik (he is her childcare person and she is always talking about him).

Have you tried contacting battered women’s shelters in your area, explaining the situation, and asking THEM what you should do?

Yeah, do this. I don’t think it’s invading her privacy to just ask, “hey, is everything all right? I saw those bruises on your arm. Do you want to discuss it? Is there anything I can do to help?”

You can go from there based on her response. Sitting her down and having a Serious Talk about domestic abuse is not appropriate unless she wants to do that.

I’m glad you respect her privacy. I’m also glad you’re not going to let that keep you from trying to help her.

What about starting with something like “I respect your right to keep your private life private, but I’m really worried about you and your kids. “

Obviously I don’t know you IRL Kayaker, but you’ve always struck me to be a very level-headed person. Have a talk with her. You’ll know what to say.

Definitely do anything you can to ensure her safety.

However, I’d like to add one data point for you to consider.

I was married to an alcoholic. Sometimes she would get angry with me (or we would just start arguing for whatever reasons) and she would start to get physical with me. My only recourse was to grab her by her upper arms and pin her down until she stopped hitting me. It was the least lethal thing I could think of to get her to stop.

And the result would always be… fingerprint bruises on her upper arms.

Oh, and the kicker to all this is my ex wife is very sweet and soft spoken in social circles. She also never cussed. So all of our friends thought of her as this sweet little thing. The only people that knew of her violent tendencies was the people that lived with her.

So of course, when friends see those bruises, I’m the one to be made out the villain.

Full disclosure: I was no saint in that relationship either. Except my fucked upness was from other non violent things. I learned this and how to deal with it through marriage counseling.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any sage advice to help you with your situation. I just wanted to respectfully show you how things can be not always as they seem.

So what do you know?:

  • she’s was in an abusive relationship
  • she is still at high risk of abuse due to the shared custody arrangement
  • she can’t afford a good lawyer who will argue for:
    • a) denial of custody to the abusive dad
    • b) a court order that requires a neutral third party to transport the children between two parties

I’d begin by asking her if she needs any help. If she seems receptive to it, suggest the child custody arrangement involving third party transport to allow for that physical distance from the abusive ex.

Something I’ve no doubt you’ve considered is the extent to which you want to get involved. It will certainly require an emotional investment, a time investment, perhaps a financial one as well.

Have you and your S.O. discussed this? What does she think?

I think it would probably be a very good idea during your conversation with your employee to include another female.

When discussing your and her options, rather than start off talking cops and lawyers I suggest it would be better to try to get her to talk to some (any) sort of counselor or therapist.

In some contexts like this, seeing that sort of bruise would legally require that you go to the authorities. This isn’t that sort of context, because she’s an adult. But I feel like that’s relevant for a baseline.

I would probably just say “I saw the bruise on your arm. If there’s anything you’d like to talk about, I’m here listening, and there are resources available.”.

Kind of. I texted a friend who is a social worker. She sent me all the handouts they use with info and I printed the material out.

That would have been ideal, but quarantine.

So, we had a talk this morning and my concern was very well received. Many of the things she said were things my social worker friend “warned” me that people who are abused tend to say. She defended her ex, blaming herself for being responsible and things being her fault. I guess I should be thankful that I knew so little about domestic abuse.

She told me he is attending the classes and is much better than he was. She still cares about him and wants her kids to have a dad. The bruise wasn’t even something she noticed at first. He grabbed her arm, but stopped short of hitting her, which she said was a huge improvement. Also, she “bruises easily”. I told her that IMO nothing she could ever do would make it OK for someone to hurt her. She cried a lot when I said that.

Anyway, long story short, she is happy to know that I care. The material I gave her made her laugh, because she has been given the same stuff several times when interacting with the police and others. She knows that I’m there for her. We had a one hour talk and I’m physically exhausted, ready to call it a day.

Thanks everyone for the support. I couldn’t have approached her without it.

I looked into this a few years back when I had a situation at work. I was talking to a woman and her ~5 year old kid was tugging at her shirt, wanting to leave. She lost it on the kid and slapped him across the face.

I told her to get the fuck out, that her actions were unconscionable and made me sick. She left without argument. I called a friend who is a cop and learned that in Pennsylvania I am not a ??? (term for someone required to report abuse).

Good on you for trying to figure out what you can/should do. I suspect it will be challenging to figure out how to conduct yourself should you see continued evidence of this abuse, if she continues to “downplay” it.

Good job, dude. Now that you’ve broached the subject, if things don’t get better I hope she knows she will be able to come to you.