I went to work with a black eye

  1. I am a new grad RN 9 months into my first year and 3 months into my current rotation.

    A few weeks ago I had a black eye. Being in my first year though it was just not possible for me to take off from work for a week or so until the bruising went down so I covered it with make-up best I could and got on with it. Nobody said a single thing over the week or so that I had it so I thought I had gotten away with some A+ make up skills.

    Turns out everyone was just too polite to mention it. On my most recent shift my nursing manager called me in to her office to ask me about it. She was so sweet, but the bruise is long gone and I was not prepared. I smiled and laughed and played it off with a "haha oh no I'm fine really thank you though but I'm totally fine etc etc". She offered me EAP and I basically ran out of there.

    Now I feel so guilty, she was genuinely concerned and trying to help, it was hard for her to ask and I laughed it off because I was in shock. I don't want her to think I am some irresponsible wit who got into a bar fight or something (not true at all). I am really touched that she offered her support. Should I approach and apologise, offer some sort of explanation? Or just leave it now to not make it worse? I want to be seen as responsible and trustworthy, I want to be employed at the end of my new grad year and I LOVE my job so much. What would you do?
    •  
  2. 44 Comments

  3. by   ohiobobcat
    I wonder if your supervisor was concerned that you are in a domestic violence situation. That might be why she offered EAP. That would be my first concern if I had an employee with bruising they attempted to cover up with no explanation for what happened.

    If you are comfortable telling your supervisor the truth how you got the bruise, I would do that. I'm sure she was just wanting to make sure you are safe, and to offer some assistance if you aren't safe.
  4. by   Wuzzie
    Your manager is legally required to ask you if you are in an unsafe situation. If your black eye was not the result of domestic violence you need to tell her that but you are not required to give her any other information. If it was the result of an act of domestic violence please get yourself someplace safe and get help.

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline – The Hotline
  5. by   ohiobobcat
    Quote from Wuzzie
    Your manager is legally required to ask you if you are in an unsafe situation. If your black eye was not the result of domestic violence you need to tell her that but you are not required to give her any other information. If it was the result of an act of domestic violence please get yourself someplace safe and get help.

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline – The Hotline
    I was not aware that this is a LEGAL requirement. Interesting.

    And yes, if you are in a domestic violence situation, please seek assistance.
  6. by   Been there,done that
    It was unprofessional of your manager to mention it. You are all grown up, your black eye is your business.
  7. by   macawake
    Quote from Been there,done that
    It was unprofessional of your manager to mention it. You are all grown up, your black eye is your business.

    Honestly, I don't understand your comment. While victims of abuse aren't the only people who attempt to hide their bruises, it is common behavior in abuse victims and an indication that might be what's going on. If you do encounter this, I think reaching out to that person is the decent thing to do, whether you happen to be in a managerial position or not. It's just something I would do from one human being to another. Do you think the manager and other coworkers should just keep on ignoring it, even if their colleague keeps showing up with new bruises and perhaps worse injuries? Domestic violence is a killer. I think we owe it to each other to try to help a fellow human being who might be living under threat.

    From some of the sports I practice, my forearms and shins are often black and blue. While people at work can't see my legs, my arms are quite visible. When I was new at work, many of my coworkers would ask me why I was bruised. I appreciated their concern and by now they know it's from sports and I don't get much comments. The occasional patient does however ask me about it.

    OP, I don't know how you got your bruise but I will echo the advice offered by previous posters. If you are in a abusive relationship/unsafe situation, please do seek help.
  8. by   Sour Lemon
    This (black eye at work) has actually happened to me twice. You're not obligated to share what happened, but I chose to tell people because I could sense how uncomfortable they were. The world really becomes a different place. Even stopping by Target was an ordeal.
    I've learned to be slightly more careful since then!!
  9. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from ohiobobcat
    I was not aware that this is a LEGAL requirement. Interesting.

    And yes, if you are in a domestic violence situation, please seek assistance.
    Nurses, teachers and school administrators are obligated reporters. With children and vulnerable adults we are required to notify the authorities of suspected abuse. It's a little stickier with adults that don't fall into the "vulnerable" category. If we suspect abuse we are required to assess the situation if possible and provide resources.
  10. by   not.done.yet
    I would be thinking domestic violence long before I would think "bar fight". Your manager is concerned. If your bruise was acquired in a fairly innocent way you might consider setting her mind at ease. Your coworkers are going to be keeping an eye on you, so if this IS a domestic situation, I feel fairly certain you have a posse on your side ready to help you with resources and safety.

    I do sincerely hope you are safe and if you are not, that you are able to find the courage it takes to get yourself out. Sending you love.
  11. by   ohiobobcat
    Quote from Wuzzie
    Nurses, teachers and school administrators are obligated reporters. With children and vulnerable adults we are required to notify the authorities of suspected abuse. It's a little stickier with adults that don't fall into the "vulnerable" category. If we suspect abuse we are required to assess the situation if possible and provide resources.
    I am well aware of the mandated reporting of suspected abuse of vulnerable populations as I am a school nurse and used to be an ER nurse. I've made "the call" many times. I don't remember reporting on adult, mentally/physically competent victims of abuse that came into the ER. Like you said, our protocol was to provide support and resources to those patients.

    So does a manager LEGALLY have to report if he/she suspects an employee is a victim of abuse or not? Or is the manager's role to provide resources and support?
  12. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from ohiobobcat
    I am well aware of the mandated reporting of suspected abuse of vulnerable populations as I am a school nurse and used to be an ER nurse. I've made "the call" many times. I don't remember reporting on adult, mentally/physically competent victims of abuse that came into the ER. Like you said, our protocol was to provide support and resources to those patients.

    So does a manager LEGALLY have to report if he/she suspects an employee is a victim of abuse or not? Or is the manager's role to provide resources and support?
    Okay, well sorry I wasn't aware of that.

    Assuming her manager is a nurse she falls under the same rules as the rest of us and probably was the most appropriate person to address the situation. I don't see a problem with it. People may disagree with my viewpoint. Frankly, I'd rather risk asking and being told to go pound salt than ignoring it only to have something unthinkable happen. YMMV
  13. by   KelRN215
    I highly doubt that your manager thought you were in a bar fight and suspect that she was concerned that you are a victim of domestic violence.

    I used to play floor hockey weekly. One of my friends on the team played hard and ended up with a black eye more than once. I regularly asked her if she was worried that her colleagues thought she was in an abusive relationship because if one of my colleagues came to work with a black eye and didn't say "I got hit in the eye playing floor hockey" or offer some other kind of explanation, my first assumption would be domestic violence.
  14. by   JKL33
    I'll just say what I think I would do: The Question is already in everyone's minds. Therefore, I think I would go back to my manager and say something like, "I wanted to come back and thank you for caring; for your inquiry about my black eye. When you asked about it, I had forgotten about it and was kind of caught off guard. [Blah, Blah]...I'm glad to know that if any of us here ever have a problem, help is available."

    Add brief deails of incident if appropriate to share and if the truth itself doesn't sound cliche (reasons of clumsiness, etc.) If it was something specific and innocent like my child carelessly swinging something that hit me in the face, for instance, I would just let her know.

    I looked up my state's reporter law. As is too often the case, there is some room for question. In some places it says "adult" and defines that as anyone over age 18, and in other places it specifies "vulnerable adult" and uses that phrase independently (i.e. as a substitution for "adult"). Suffice it to say your manager may feel obligated to report this, but nothing AT ALL is going to come of it if 1) you are not vulnerable 2) you don't need/want help.

    I would be remiss to not agree with/reiterate the other responders urging you to seek help if you are in a harmful situaton.

close