Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Most Dangerous Time

It is so important that people understand the dangerous time for victims of domestic violence is often when they decide to leave or have left the relationship.

In cases of homicide related to domestic violence; 75% of the time it is when the victim is leaving or has left the abuser.

Leaving is potentially VERY dangerous for a victim – this must be kept in mind and communicated to victims -- whether they are employees or friends.

Once again in our community a woman was killed this week when she told her boyfriend that she wanted out of the relationship. He had been very abusive in the past, and when she finally determined this time to go, he determined to kill her.

This was especially chilling to me, because I had just finished doing a presentation earlier in the day at one of our member companies talking about how to help a friend or loved one who is in an abusive relationship, and one of the things I emphasized was the fact of the danger involved in leaving.

And then I came back to work and found out that Ms. Wallace -- mother of five-- had been killed with a kitchen knife by a man who allegedly loved her.

If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 -- don't go it alone.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Domestic violence spills into workplace, study finds

Domestic violence is affecting more workers in the office, with altercations sometimes spilling from the home into the workplace, a study by an antiviolence organization has found.

The study, conducted by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, found that 57 percent of American workers know someone who has dealt with domestic violence, and 44 percent have ''personally experienced'' the impact of domestic violence situations at work.

The ways that domestic violence spills over into the workplace may vary, but responses to the survey showed that overall, it affects people fairly consistently at jobs requiring all levels of education. Workers with the greatest mount of education in the survey saw slightly more incidents of domestic violence situations than those with less education: 48 percent of college graduates surveyed reported direct knowledge of problems that affected co-workers, followed by 44 percent of those with some college education and 43 percent of those with a high school degree or less. Of those employees who had witnessed or experienced domestic violence in the workplace, a majority — 71 percent — believed victims they worked with lived ''in fear of discovery,'' the report said.

Behavior by co-workers' partners in the workplace is often embarrassing for the victims, respondents said, and workplace friends and allies often offer support by helping out with workloads.

About 31 percent of workers said they felt ''strongly'' or ''somewhat obliged'' to cover for a domestic violence victim by either performing their work or covering up their absences.
Domestic violence in the workplace affects more than the victims. Of those surveyed, 38 percent said they were ''extremely'' or ''somewhat concerned'' for their own safety, often because the abusive partner would visit the workplace.

In general, employers do not offer support programs for victims. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they did not know whether their company had a domestic violence policy or whether they offered support services for victims, while 31 percent said they knew none were available.

Kim Wells, executive director for the alliance, said a hands-off policy by employers on domestic violence issues is unhealthy for employees who need help.

''Because domestic violence's impact does not end at the office front door, America's employers need to take action,'' she said in a statement released with the study.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Survey Finds Domestic Violence Has Significant Impact on US Workforce

In honor of CAEPV's 10th anniversary, we conducted a first-ever national benchmarking telephone survey to discover what the general adult employee population believes about domestic violence as a workplace issue - and how they have been impacted.

Among the major findings:
-44% of employed adults surveyed personally experienced domestic violence's effect in their workplaces
-21% of respondents (men and women) identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence
-64% of victims of domestic violence indicated that their ability to work was affected by the violence
-33% of victims reported their employer provides no programs or support
-66% of those surveyed indicated they were not aware of their employer having a workplace domestic violence policy
-61% of those surveyed believe their employer's "performance and reputation" would "improve if it did a better job addressing the impact of domestic violence, such as through a workplace program"

The Survey Sponsors

Our thanks to the following companies and organizations for their sponsorship of this benchmarking survey:
Verizon Wireless-Lead Sponsor
Blue Shield of California Foundation
State Farm Insurance Companies
Liz Claiborne Inc.
Mary Kay Inc.
Park National Bank

Sample Resources

CAEPV Sample Workplace Policy
CAEPV's Six Steps For Creating a Successful Workplace Program

The Survey Findings

A National Issue
The study found that intimate partner violence has a wide and far-reaching effect on American's working lives - whether in terms of economic productivity, personal safety, office culture or other issues.

A full 53% of respondents are "very aware" to "somewhat aware" of domestic violence as a workplace issue, and 43% rated "Domestic Violence's impact on the workplace" as "very important" - placing it among other major issues with the potential to disrupt our working lives such as "Terrorism" (44%), "Job Insecurity" (41%) and "Employee Theft" (40%). Only "Benefits such as health care or retirement" rated significantly higher (63%)

Significant Impact
Specifically, a majority or more of respondents noted that domestic violence had the following significant impact on victims:
-71% believe victims lived in "fear of discovery."
-67% said victims needed "to seek out co-workers for additional help."
-65% noted that the "intimate partner harassed their co-worker at work (by phone or in person)."
-63% believe victims suffered from an "inability to complete assignments on time."
-59% found victims lived in "fear of their intimate partner's unexpected visits."

Covering for Victims
Moreover, 31% of respondents felt "strongly" to "somewhat obliged" to cover for a victim of domestic violence by performing his or her work or offering excuses for his or her absence. Additional reported impact included:
-27% reported "extremely frequently" to "somewhat frequently" having to "do the victim's work for them."
-25% resented co-workers from "great" to "some extent" because of the effect of their situation "on the workplace."

Workplace Safety
In addition, 38% of respondents were "extremely" to "somewhat concerned" for their own safety when they "found out a co-worker was a victim." Thirty-two percent believe the co-worker victim feared "for his/her safety" - perhaps because 30% reported that the abuser frequently visited the office.
-19% said it took "over a year" for the problem to be resolved.
-23% said "several months."

Victims Perspective
The domestic violence victims surveyed confirmed non-victims' impressions - as a full 64% of victims reported their ability to work "significantly" (38%) to "somewhat" (26%) affected.
Among key causes for their decline in productivity, victims noted "distraction" (57%); "fear of discovery" (45%); "harassment by intimate partner at work (either by phone or in person)" (40%); fear of intimate partner's unexpected visits" (34%); "inability to complete assignments on time" (24%); and "job loss" (21%).

First-Hand Knowledge
Fifty-seven percent of respondents know someone who has been affected by domestic violence, and 44% have personally experienced domestic violence's impact on the workplace, most frequently because a co-worker was a victim (45%) - a response that was consistent across educational levels, from a high school degree or less (43%) to some college (44%) to college graduates and beyond (48%).

Employer Support
In victims' experience, employers provided relatively limited support - with 31% reporting that their employers offered "no programs, support or help." However, victims did point to receiving the following help:
-23% "Access to counseling and assistance"
-18% "Information and referral to domestic violence programs"
-12% "Contacting authorities"
-12% "Providing security"
-8% "providing flexible leave time and other benefits"

Accessing Support
Only 46% of victims were "easily able to access" available programs or "seek assistance" and 42% were not able to do so. While just 26% found programs or resources "extremely helpful." The reason victims found "it difficult to access" help included the following:
-25% "Confidentiality"
-16% "Concern seeking help would jeopardize job/career advancement"
-13% "Lack of information"
-6% "No clear contact person"

One-Third Awareness Policies
Slightly more than one-third of all respondents (34%) were aware of their employers' domestic violence policies, and among this "aware" group, 49% believe their employer's program is "very effective." Program elements mentioned included: providing flexible leave time or other benefits, providing security, contacting authorities, changing hours or work locations and providing access to legal support. Two-thirds (66%) were unaware or did not know if their employer has a domestic violence policy or program in place.

Coming Forward — A Hypothetical
A full 75% of non-victim respondents believe their current employer would be "very supportive" to "somewhat supportive" if they came forward as a victim today. Yet 16% would "not come forward as a victim," 32% would be "nervous" and 14% would be concerned. Only 26% would be "relieved."

Moreover, if a respondent were to identify a potential victim at the workplace, his or her response would most likely be personal rather than through professional channels. Specifically, 68% would "reach out to a potential victim" - while only 30% would "report concerns to a supervisor"; 26% would "call the National Domestic Violence Hotline" and 26% would "contact human resources or personnel."

Raising Awareness, Expanding Policies
Respondents pointed to the following information and services that "would have been helpful":
-"Comprehensive domestic violence awareness program" (48%)
-"24 hour hotline to report domestic violence and other problems" (45%)
-"Training on domestic Violence" (43%)
-"Payroll stuffers to raise awareness/promote access" (40%)

Strengthening Reputation
Sixty-one percent believe their employer's "performance and reputation" would "improve if it did a better job addressing the impact of domestic violence, such as through a workplace program." Responses were consistent across ethnicity and income, although the study found somewhat higher support among lower educational levels: 72% "High School or less"; 62% "Some college"; 53% College grad and beyond."

The Hotline
At the end of the survey, when queried, nearly one-third (32%) of all respondents asked for the "National Domestic Violence Hotline" number. Responses were consistent across education, income and marital status.

About the Survey
Group SJR, a national survey research and communications firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, fielded the study from July 15th to September 15th, 2005. The 1200 person national telephone survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

The Study's Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is the use of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or threats to control another person who is a current or former husband, wife or other intimate partner such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is a leading force in the fight against intimate partner violence and its effects on the workplace. It is the only national nonprofit organization in the US founded by business leaders and focused on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace. Since 1995, the Alliance has brought together dozens of progressive companies who exchange information, collaborate on projects, and use their influence to instigate change. The Alliance offers extensive research, policy knowledge and issue expertise to the business community, including training, program guidance, and crisis consultation - with programs designed to make the workplace safe and to prevent intimate partner violence from impacting the workplace.

CAEPV has member and associate organizations reaching over one million employees across the United States. Corporate members include Altria Group, Inc., American Express, ADM, The Avon Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Shield of California Foundation, CIGNA, Eastman Kodak, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Legal Momentum, Lifetime Television, Liz Claiborne Inc., Mary Kay Inc., Northern Trust, RAND, State Farm Insurance Companies, Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, and The Wireless Foundation.

Internationally, the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence UK, the United Nations Population Fund/Turkey and the Office of the Status of Women, Commonwealth of Australia are CAEPV member organizations.