Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Domestic violence, defined as behaviors used by one person to gain control over another, is a serious issue and typically occurs in intimate relationships. That can translate to threats, physical, verbal and mental abuse, sexual assault, even murder.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Time to shine the light on this issue and provide some education.

National Statistics on Domestic Violence

The following statistics come from the  National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) National Statistics Violence Fact Sheet:

» In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute; this equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

» 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked.

» On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.

» Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

» 19% of intimate partner violence involves a weapon.

» Intimate partner victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

But it doesn’t stop there. Domestic violence impacts the workplace as well.

» Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone – the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

» The costs of intimate partner violence to the U.S. economy is between $5.8 billion and $12.6 billion annually.

» Between 21 to 60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.

And, where is the one place an abuser knows where to find his or her victim nearly every day … at the workplace.

Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace

domestic violence aftereffects» Victims suffer physical and emotional issues, absenteeism and/or tardiness, reduced concentration on the job and workplace interruptions.

» Co-workers aren’t just concerned about the victims, but start to have a concern for their own personal safety. Ultimately their work performance and productivity starts to suffer; for instance, they might develop feelings of resentment for picking up the slack or being traumatized after witnessing the violence.

» The workplace itself is impacted by the increased threat of violence, increased health care costs, turnover and recruitment costs, and lowered productivity.

Does your workplace have a plan?

Bottom line, every place of business should have a plan that managers and employees can follow in these situations and that helps connect victims to needed resources. Some ideas to consider include:

» Make sure employees are aware of the services offered through an  Employee Assistance Program,  and encourage its use.

» Don’t be judgmental. Be clear that you are there to help as a manager or co-worker.

» Assist the employee with securing additional security, such as an escort to and from his or her vehicle or priority parking near entrances.

» Adjust the employee’s workspace so that he or she isn’t near public access, such as stairs and elevators.

» Establish policies and procedures on how to report concerns. Insist on a culture that has zero tolerance to any form of violence.

» As the manager or co-worker know that you, too, can seek assistance through the EAP in how to deal with these issues for yourself.

Be aware that there may be legal issues. For instance, OSHA generally requires employers to maintain a safe workplace. FMLA may require employers to grant leave to employees in domestic violence situations. There may be other legalities you may need to consult with human resources and/or counsel on.

What else can you do?

Make a Difference. Get Involved in Your Community.

For instance, in the Kansas City metropolitan area “each year Rose Brooks Center provides more than 57,000 safe nights to women and children escaping violent homes.” To continue this work, why not join the movement advocating for a safer and healthier community.

» Make a donation of your time or money.
» See if your workplace will sponsor or make a donation.
» Gather a team of your co-workers and participate in the organization’s fundraising events.
» Create your own fundraising event.

 Don’t be silent anymore.

Resources for You:

Here is a guide, written by women for women, to help them protect themselves  online: The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women.

This blog, originally posted October 23, 2013, has been updated with additional sources and information.

photo credit: Ira Gelb via photopin cc