Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Domestic Violence and the Holidays

So -- it's the holidays and you will be around family and friends that you may not usually see. And what if you see something that you are concerned about? What if you think someone you care about may not be in a safe relationship? Here is the big difficult question:

"What do you say to someone if you are concerned that they may be in an abusive relationship?"

Here is one pretty good way that I've found to talk with someone -- granted this is my style and everyone has a different style, but it goes something like this:

"You know I really care a lot about you. I've noticed you haven't been yourself lately, and that (and you would fill in here the other things you've noticed -- like that the person seems afraid of their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, has unexplained injuries, seems isolated, etc.). I would rather be wrong or have you mad at me for asking than ever have anything bad happen to you so I just have to check in with you and ask -- are you safe in your relationship?"

Because really, if you think about it, that is the point, isn't it? You WOULD rather be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable asking, or be wrong rather than have something bad happen to a friend of yours and not say something.

And -- so what if your friend tells you that he or she is fine? Then say "Hey, that is great. But if you ever decide you aren't ok, I want you to know my door is always open." And you may also want to add, "And if you were ever concerned that I was not safe, I would hope you would ask me the same question, right?" Because the point is, if we really have one another's backs, we should be able to ask each other these questions.

And then if you can, you may want to check in again with your family member or friend again in a few weeks just to see how things are going. People don't always tell you right away when they are in a relationship that is not safe or good for them. It takes time and it is not easy.

For help or advice anytime, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Or for teens, check out the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline -- on the web at http://www.loveisrespect.org/ or at 1-866-331-9474.

It never hurts to ask -- and it may help change or save the life of someone you care about.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What IS the Media's Role Regarding Domestic Violence Reporting?

This is one of the questions being discussed at the fourth international conference in Turkey this week. You may be surprised it is being spearheaded by a newspaper group. They want to discuss whether or not (and I quote here) “The Turkish media is dominated by close-minded men who can't realize the gravity of domestic violence and thus fail to stand up to it. Whether the ‘male-domination’ paradigm is being replaced by more open minds and concerned manner of news making will also be discussed.”

People are always amazed when I tell them that one of our CAEPV member companies is the Hurriyet newspaper group in Turkey. These conferences on domestic violence have been held annually since 2004, when Hürriyet launched its "No to Domestic Violence" (Aile İçi Şiddete Son) campaign. With an impressive logo of an eye in tears, the project aimed at both helping women who are persecuted by their husbands, and raising consciousness on this serious problem, which has been one of the gravest yet rarely spoken maladies in Turkish society. I was part of this conference in 2006, and we talked with businesses in Turkey about how to start their own workplace programs, and to start a “Corporate Alliance” in Turkey.

Temuçin Tüzecan, the communications director of Hürriyet has big plans – he wants to bring 25 of the largest companies in Turkey on board!

Hurriyet has established a 24/7 call center, which is an emergency line for victims of domestic violence. Just a few weeks ago the call center saved the life of an 18-year old wife in Ağrı, who was almost freezing to death while hiding in a barn, Tüzecan said. "She was escaping her family-in-law," he said. "They, for some bizarre reason, had been infuriated with her and had decided to punish her."

The "End to Domestic Violence" campaign also focuses on the root causes of this problem, and this year's conference topic, the media, is right on target. "The language that the media uses while reporting such incidents is crucial," Tüzecan said. In the past there used to be rhetoric in the Turkish media, which did not regard the problem seriously enough. It rather sometimes used a tone that treated domestic violence as if it were a normal fact of life, even a funny one. This has changed to a great extent, Tüzecan said. Campaigns like that of Hürriyet have raised consciousness. Moreover, “there is now a younger generation of editors and reporters who don't think within the old machoistic ways,” he said.

I think to myself – how much different is that than here in the US? Those of you following the Stacy Peterson case may be dismayed (and rightly so) by the lack of emphasis in the media on the issues surrounding domestic violence. CAEPV Board Member Anne Glauber wrote a thoughtful piece in Women’s eNews about her personal experience trying to engage the national media.

However – I DO want to congratulate Bill Cameron and WLS News/Talk Radio 890 AM in Chicago for taking time to actually devote a show to the issues surrounding domestic violence that were stirred up as a result of this situation. If you want to listen to the podcast featuring Cook County State’s Attorney Deputy Chief Anita Alvarez and myself, click here for the link.

So – we all have a long way to go on this issue. I look forward to the day that there are more media outlets like WLS Radio in Chicago taking this issue seriously, and more companies like Hurriyet that are looking at the role they have externally and internally in addressing the issue.

As always, for anyone who is interested, our website at http://www.caepv.org/ has lots of great resources to help.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"If We Do It For You, We'll Have to Do It For Everyone Else" - A "Removing the Target" Approach to Domestic Violence and the Workplace

Someone recently shared a story with me about a situation where an employee had a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend and went to a security officer at her workplace to ask if she could have an escort to her vehicle because she was concerned the ex might show up at the workplace - and it was an open sort of workplace where a person could easily show up and have access -- like a campus or mall. (I am trying not to give too much identifying information here.)

The security person's response was, "No -- because if we do it for you, we'll have to do it for everyone else."

The person who told me this story was shocked, but this "knee-jerk" first reaction does not really surprise me. It is what I often put in the category of "removing the target."

What I mean by "removing the target" is this --sometimes a workplace sees that the victim of domestic violence has an abuser who is harassing and calling and visiting and bothering not only the victim but co-workers and the place of business. So the employer will say "Hey -- get that person to stop bugging you here, or we are going to have to fire you." And then if it does not stop, they say "We warned you, and now we have to fire you."

The problem is -- they removed the target -- but they have now created a disincentive for ANYONE else to EVER report if they have an abusive person threatening them at work because they have seen what happens. You get fired.

So what happens when another abused employee does not share a concern someday and an ex comes to work with a gun -- and no one is prepared? (And this does not even take into consideration the laws in some states and municipalities that do not allow a victim of domestic violence to be fired simply because that person is a victim OR because the abuser is disrupting the workplace.)

Violence prevention is much smarter than "removing the target." And in the example I started with, I would hate to be the workplace that knew about a potential threat (because the employee informed them) and then something deadly happened.

I am pretty sure "If we do this for you, we have to do this for everyone" is not a good defense in court, and it is not the position ANY workplace wants to take if someone is injured or dies.

(If you need help or want more information on developing workplace policies and practices, check our CAEPV website at http://www.caepv.org/.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Get a "Kiss for Country" and Help Mary Kay Kiss Domestic Violence Goodbye

I love it when people are creative about drawing attention to the issues they care about -- and here is a great example:

Mary Kay, the Official Beauty Sponsor of "The 41st Annual CMA Awards," has enlisted the help of Country Music superstar Martina McBride to turn these celebrity fantasies into realities with a new philanthropic initiative to counter domestic violence. As part of the national "A Kiss for Country" charity campaign being unveiled by McBride, top Country Music artists have partnered with CAEPV Member Mary Kay to auction off their kiss prints to benefit the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation programs committed to ending domestic violence. Fans now have the chance to bid on those cards through an online auction at http://www.ubid.com/promo/charity/ from November 6 through December 31, 2007. 100% of the proceeds go to the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation where they will be used to help domestic violence shelters and programs.

On Tuesday, November 6, McBride joined Mary Kay and CMA Chief Executive Officer Tammy Genovese at The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to unveil the celebrity-smooched "kiss cards" and show her ongoing commitment to the prevention of domestic violence. "As a performer, I am lucky to have the opportunity to share my messages with the public, but through 'A Kiss for Country,' Mary Kay is allowing me to spread hope," said Martina McBride, the longtime champion of the cause against domestic violence. "Through the kisses of my fellow Country Music artists and the generous contributions of the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, we are hoping to help put an end to domestic violence."

To help Mary Kay kiss domestic violence goodbye, spokesperson Martina McBride and participating Country Music artists, including Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Jennifer Hanson, Miranda Lambert, Jo Dee Messina, Jennifer Nettles, Tanya Tucker and Wynonna applied their favorite Mary Kay lip products and imparted their lip prints on specially designed "kiss cards." Adding a fun element, the lip prints were analyzed by a professional "kissologist" and were displayed backstage at the Mary Kay Makeup Touch-Up Station at the 2007 CMA Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Mary Kay is stepping up the commitment by providing a $20,000 grant to a women's shelter through the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation in each participating artist's name in exchange for their kiss print. These grants will be awarded in 2008 to women's domestic violence shelters in each of the 50 states. In 2008, the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation pledges to donate up to $3 million to women's shelters around the country.

If you are a country music fan, this is a great opportunity to bid on something really special -- and support a great cause! As I write this, Reba McEntire is "in the lead" but there is a long way to go, and no matter who gets the highest bid for their "kiss," everyone wins!

To learn more about the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, visit www.caepv.org.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What Do Michael Scott, Scranton, Dunder Mifflin, and The Office Have to Do With Domestic Violence?

Well, really nothing in one way.

But I was in Scranton last week presenting for the Women's Resource Center's 30th Anniversary Celebration Summit for Northeast Pennsylvania Employers. I was excited -- because I always love to talk with employers about how they can address domestic violence as a workplace issue.

And I have a confession to make -- I was REALLY excited because I also happen to love the show "The Office" which takes place at Dunder Mifflin, a paper company in Scranton, PA. (OK -- before you decide I am out of it, I know Dunder Mifflin is not a real company.)

One of the reasons I love "The Office" is that Michael Scott, the boss, is such a bumbling, politically incorrect HR nightmare. If there is a way to bring on an employee lawsuit by something Michael could say or do, he will figure out a way to do it. But at the end of the day, he always ends up doing something warm and humanizing -- so I am touched and somehow I believe he really is human and that he really does mean well. (And then by the credits he has done something amazingly awful -- and funny-- again.)

One episode that sticks out in my mind is when Pam tells her former fiance, Roy that she kissed Jim (a co-worker). Roy goes to the office to punch Jim, but he is felled by Dwight (another co-worker) wielding a bottle of pepper spray. We do not recommend this sort of action at CAEPV, but it worked out on the show. And Dunder Mifflin did fire Roy.

But it got me to thinking -- what if Pam had come to Michael and told him that Roy was being abusive in their relationship? What would that episode have looked like? How bumbling would Michael have been? What inappropriate things would he say to Pam? Would he blab to the office? Would he get in Roy's face? Would he ask one of the "girls" in the office to talk to her? Would he have a discussion with Toby the HR guy? Or would he ignore it because it was a "private matter" between two people who are dating even though they both work for him?

I came to this conclusion -- I think in this kind of situation (domestic violence) a lot of us managers are "Michael Scott." We are bumbling, we don't know what to say, we may say the wrong thing altogether, we may ignore it and wish it would go away. That is because we are not sure what to do.

Fortunately there are great resources like http://www.caepv.org/ to help so we don't have to be Michael -- we can be better. And in real life, that is what we really want to do.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Are YOU Going To Do About Domestic Violence?

"What are YOU going to do about domestic violence?"

This is what South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster asked an audience full of business leaders at his domestic violence summit for the business community on October 25. It was co-sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

The Attorney General was not just giving a speech -- he meant it. He wanted to know what everyone in the audience was going to do about an issue that he believes is the number one crime issue in South Carolina -- and he wants the business community to join him in dealing with this issue. He wants business people to look at the business costs of domestic violence and to see how they can be proactive in addressing domestic violence -- and that was why I was there. I was there to talk to employers about how they can "do well by doing good" -- they can recognize domestic violence as an issue impacting their workplaces and employees, respond appropriately in the context of the workplace, and refer employees for assistance and services (and of course people can get information on our website at http://www.caepv.org/) . . .and fortunately we had wonderful service providers there with us from all over South Carolina.

But it was more than that. Attorney General McMaster wanted every person in the room to think personally about our response to domestic violence and we were personally going to respond. We heard from a wonderful young lady who shared her incredible story of courage and survival, and we heard from the AG about the dire statistics in South Carolina, and we heard from Verizon Wireless about the wonderful things they are doing as an employer. And then it was time for people to decide how they were going to step up.

So -- as October draws to a close, I guess it is time for all of us to ask ourselves the question that Attorney General McMaster asked everyone in that room in Columbia, South Carolina last week -- "What are YOU going to do about domestic violence?"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Allstate Foundation Launches New Website to Provide Information and Resources to Survivors of Domestic Violence

On October 16, CAEPV Member The Allstate Foundation launched a new Web site, www.EconEmpowerment.org, providing information and resources to support survivors of domestic violence.

The site is just one component of The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program, which provides comprehensive programming to energize, empower and equip domestic violence survivors with the resources, knowledge and skills they need to achieve safer and more financially secure lives.

Jennifer Kuhn, who is the program manager for the Foundation's Domestic Violence Program put it this way: “Financial control is an aspect of domestic violence that is frequently overlooked. Abusers frequently isolate their victims by controlling access to money and financial resources. Financial abuse can be more devastating than physical abuse in some situations. With our new Web site, www.EconEmpowerment.org, we provide critical resources and information to help survivors find financial independence free from abuse."

www.EconEmpowerment.org provides information on resources available to survivors, including:

Moving Ahead Through Money Management– The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program\'s financial empowerment curriculum – which includes financial tools and information that enable survivors of domestic abuse to (1) fully understand their financial circumstances, and (2) engage in short- and long-term planning to accomplish their personal goals. The curriculum provides:

Ways to locate and access local, state and national personal safety and financial resources;
Information on how to protect personal and financial safety in-crisis and post-crisis;
Strategies for dealing with the misuse of financial records; and
Tools to help people of all incomes and earning power work toward long-term economic empowerment.

The Allstate Foundation Education and Job Training Fund– A fund that channels small grants to adult domestic violence survivors to help them achieve their educational and professional goals. This covers education, training and job-related expenses including:
-Books and supplies for school;
-Job skills training;
-Certification and registration fees;
-Requirements for jobs, such as uniforms;
-Child care; and
Public transportation.

Links to national and state-based domestic violence organizations – Each U.S. state & territory has a domestic violence state coalition that connects survivors and interested members of the public to resources, including shelters and emergency funding, in their local communities. Both national and state-based organizations also provide a wealth of information and tips for both survivors and others who wish to help.

www.EconEmpowerment.org contains links and key contact information for state and national organizations.The Web site also contains information for service providers, such as ways to enhance their organization’s financial empowerment services, and information on applying for grants. In addition, it offers information on volunteer opportunities through both local and national programs and organizations.

For additional information, visit http://www.allstate.com/foundation.

What I love about this is thinking "beyond" what people often think about with domestic violence -- and that is a person's financial situation in the long term. It is realizing that a person often needs financial tools and help to get the next level and to truly be independent. Heck -- I am honored to be a member of the Allstate Foundation National Advisory Board for their Domestic Violence Program, and in reviewing the financial literacy curriculum and all the tools and helps involved, I saw that I could really benefit from the information in the curriculum!!!!!

What Allstate is doing here makes a lot of sense -- it aligns with their business practices of making sure people are financially viable, and they are looking at an issue related to domestic violence that to date, not many are taking into consideration -- how to help build financial literacy and economic empowerment for people who are surviving abuse.

And I LOVE the idea of helping people with things like books, job training and certification, tuition, childcare, public transportation. . . the things that will really get them from Point A to Point B in life.

What a way to take what you do well in your book of business (financial stuff) and have it make a difference for victims and survivors of domestic violence!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Six Percent Versus 21% -- Why Do CEOs Think So Few Employees Are Victims of Domestic Violence?

Here is something interesting.

On September 25, we released results of a new survey of employees of Fortune 1500 companies in conjunction with Liz Claiborne -- they released a parallel survey of Fortune 1500 top executives. We did this in partnership with Safe Horizon as we all worked together to launch SafeWork 2010 – a program to challenge CEOs to address domestic violence as a workplace issue. The idea is to get 200 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies to sign this pledge by 2010.

At any rate, in our parallel surveys, while we found that 26% of Fortune 1500 female employees were victims of domestic violence, and that 18% of all Fortune 1500 employees (male and female) identified themselves as such – guess how many victims the CEOs thought worked for them? (By the way this was very similar to the national survey CAEPV did in 2005 when we found that 21% of full time employed adults were victims of domestic violence.)

They guessed 6%.

At the same time, 90% of employees thought it was important for workplaces to have a program to train managers to recognize and respond to domestic violence as a workplace issue – while only 13% of CEOs thought that the workplace was really the place to do something about it.

Why the difference?

My guess is that employees and managers are “on the ground” and seeing these situations on a daily basis. They know that domestic violence is impacting the workplace – they know it is a productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, healthcare, and workplace safety issue. They are managing it.

But CEOs have a 30,000 foot view of things and they see the “broad strokes” – after all, that is their job. If someone does not tell them this is going on, how could they be aware of it?

One of the things we learned from the surveys is that if employees ask for it, CEOs say they are much more likely to make these kinds of programs happen.

SO – if you are an employee who wants this kind of program in your workplace, perhaps you can start the ball rolling by making your CEO aware of the impact domestic violence has in workplaces. You can find lots of information on that at www.caepv.org.

I wish the CEOs were right – I wish there were only 6% -- but since there are a lot more, we need to do everything we can to help make this issue “everybody’s business.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Are You Wearing A Gold Heart?

This week I am traveling and speaking all week long. I was privileged on Tuesday to speak at the Alabama Governor's Conference on Domestic Violence in Birmingham. The focus of the conference was the impact of domestic violence on the workplace and how employers can recognize that domestic violence impacts the workplace and how to recognize the warning signs, respond appropriately within the context of workplace performance and behavior, and refer employees to the resources that can assist them.

During the conference, the hosts invited those who were survivors of domestic violence to wear white roses that had been made available for them at the conference as a symbol of honor and freedom.

They did something else I thought was wonderful -- they invited anyone who had helped someone else in the workplace as a co-worker, boss, or manager to wear a gold heart in honor of that help. It was wonderful to see those gold hearts were gone in a flash!

If you are "wearing a gold heart" -- I congratulate and honor you! If you have reached out to someone in the workplace, if you have been part of developing a policy or program, if you have taken the time to recognize that a bruise may not just be a bruise, and too many office visits may not be benign, you are a "gold heart."

We need more people like you in workplaces -- and in the world!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Liz Claiborne, and Safe Horizon Release Results of CEO and Employee Survey on Domestic Violence

On “It’s Time to Talk Day,” the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Liz Claiborne Inc., and Safe Horizon unveiled key findings from two new parallel research studies entitled “Corporate Leaders and America’s Workforce on Domestic Violence,” as part of a CEO Roundtable and Media Briefing. The first measures business leaders' attitudes toward domestic violence, benchmarking the results against those of prior studies conducted by Liz Claiborne in 1994 and 2002. The second survey benchmarks the Corporate Alliance 2005 survey of employee attitudes toward the issue. A complete executive summary is available, but a few key findings include:

1) Increasing numbers of CEO's realize domestic violence impacts the bottom line, but differ significantly with employees on the business role in addressing domestic violence
CEO's underestimate numbers of victims in their own companies: on average, CEO's believe only 6% of their full time employees are victims; this is in sharp contrast to reality --

2) More than 1 in 4 women (26%) in the workplace admit to being a victim and 1 in 4 (24%) know a coworker who is a victim.

3) 90% of employees think companies representatives should be trained in recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence

What does this mean? Clearly employees see domestic violence impacting the workplace 'on the ground' and CEOs are in a different position. It is clear that employees want and need the kind of training offered by SafeWork -- a program launched by Safe Horizon in partnership with the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. For an overview of the new surveys, click here on the CAEPV website.

I think that it is not that top executives don't care -- they just don't SEE it the way that managers and co-workers do on a day to day basis. And CEOs also said overwhelmingly that if their employees asked them for these kinds of programs, they would implement them.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the information in these two surveys starts to be more widely disseminated.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Time to Talk Day, SafeWork, and Stories

Next Tuesday is the fourth annual It’s Time to Talk Day – a day for people throughout the US to talk about domestic violence. In Central Illinois, we have 23 organizations – businesses, the media, community agencies, units of government, universities, law enforcement, the judiciary, service organizations, student groups – all coming together to do all sorts of really cool things to draw attention to domestic violence.

In New York, we will be celebrating the “Day” by kicking off the National Launch of SafeWork 2010 – a challenge to CEOs across the country to get 200 of them to sign a pledge to address domestic violence proactively within their workplaces by 2010. We are doing this in conjunction with our members Safe Horizon. CEOs that have already signed on include Tom Wilson from Allstate, Andrea Jung from Avon, Bill McComb from Liz Claiborne, Andrea Wong from Lifetime Entertainment Services, David Holl from Mary Kay Inc., Andrew R. Urban from Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C., Dr. Robert Pearl from Kaiser Permanente, Emanuel Chirico from Phillips-Van Heusen and David Eslick from USI Holdings. That is a great start!

Here is what we have going on:

CEO Roundtable and Media Briefing
Q&A Session with CEO Panel and questions from the media, including screening of (Un)Safe film and launch of SafeWork 2010
CAEPV, Liz Claiborne, and Safe Horizon will release results of new surveys about the impact of domestic violence in the workplace in conjunction with the launch of SafeWork 2010

SafeWork Education and Training Event
Facilitated training and discussion regarding the impact of domestic violence on the workplace, using (Un)Safe film

(Un)Safe Film premiere
Screening of (Un)Safe at the Museum of Modern Art.
VIP Reception and Cocktail party hosted by Mariska Hargitay, Safe Horizon Board Member and star of NBC’s Law & Order: SVU

It is going to be a great day – but domestic violence is always closer than you think.

I was at an event two days ago talking with two professional gentlemen from Verizon. They were there because their company has a long-term commitment to this issue. However, it was not long before both of them were sharing their stories about domestic violence -- friends they knew who they thought were nice guys but who turned out to be abusive. A family member who was abusive and so they were raised a different way. It was just so close to them.

If you "take a moment" to look around, to learn, and to listen, you may find out that domestic violence is closer than you think. And if you do, I hope you will take the time to ask if someone is safe, and to let them know you care.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Are You Doing For Domestic Violence Awareness Month? (Or -- Where Is All The Purple?)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I realize it is also a month to recognize a lot of other really important health and other issues -- most notably breast cancer.

But while you see a lot of "pink" around, do you see a lot of "purple"? (Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness like pink represents breast cancer awareness.) I have seen pink mixers, pink bras, pink baseball bats, pink shoes. . . you name it.

But why not purple? I have some guesses.

A long time ago, no one talked about breast cancer -- they kept it a secret, and somehow it was a "shame" and was their fault. But that has changed, and we no longer blame breast cancer victims. We call them survivors.

Now -- with domestic violence, we are not exactly there. We are uncomfortable with it because we are not really sure what "causes" it, whose "fault" it is, what we should do about it, or how to even say something to someone. I don't know all the reasons. I just know this -- it is highly uncomfortable for us.

But put all that aside for a moment. I think we can all agree that the one place everyone should be safe and secure is in their own homes where they should feel loved and cherished. And I think we can all learn a bit about how to be healthier in our own relationships (which is also a source of discomfort for us, I think) and also learn how to recognize if someone is in a relationship that is perhaps not as healthy or safe as it could be.

I am not sure it "matters" that I "get" everything about someone else's relationship-- I am really clear that no one deserves to be hit. Or slapped. Or to have things thrown at them. Or to be intimidated. Or for their children to be afraid.

Maybe for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it would be good if we could all do what Liz Claiborne is asking people to do for "It's Time to Talk Day" and just learn to talk about this -- not argue about it, not decide if it is a "men's thing" or a "women's thing" but just realize it is a thing that impacts everyone. Don't we want everyone to be better and live safely?

Spread the purple!!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How Do You Ask "Are you a victim of domestic violence?"

I was taping a local television spot earlier this week to discuss It’s Time to Talk Day activities in our community and talk about domestic violence and healthy relationships in general. The host of the show asked a very good question -- about the awkwardness of asking someone you care about if they are a victim of domestic violence. He was wondering exactly how you get that conversation started, anyway?

I know I have written about that before in this blog, but because he found our discussion so helpful, I thought I should write about it again.

For me, it really helps to say something like this: "You know I really care about you, and I would rather be wrong than ever have anything bad happen to you. I have noticed lately that you are keeping to yourself more than usual, you seem to be afraid of your partner, you seem to have a lot of injuries which don't make a lot of sense when you explain them, _________________ (whatever the things are you have noticed that you are concerned about). So --because I care, I just need to check in with you and ask you -- are you safe in your relationship?"

I think the "keys" for me are the fact that:

1) I WOULD rather be wrong than have something bad happen to someone I care about. I would rather be embarrassed and say the wrong thing than not say anything.

2) I am asking if the person is safe -- I am not making a judgement about the person they are in a relationship with --

So -- what if my friend says "Are you crazy? I am fine!" I end up saying something like this: "I am so glad you are fine. But if things are ever not fine, I want you to know you can come to me. And I hope that if the situation was reversed and you had concerns for me in my relationship, you would ask me if I was safe because I know you care that much about me."

And -- if you friend ends up saying you are right and he or she is NOT safe? Then offer to help them find the resources in the community that can assist. Do not feel you have to take the burden on yourself -- that is not your job. Support and caring as a friend IS your job-- but helping a person deal with the specifics of a domestic violence relationship (especially if they are choosing to leave) is really best done by those in the field with a lot of experience.

It is also REALLY important to understand there is a difference between being safe and leaving a situation. Sometimes it is not safe to leave. Please do not try to make those decisions for your friend.

You can always call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) for information about services in your area.

If you just read this, thank you. If you ever decide to use what you read, thank you even more.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What A Cool Person!

This poem was sent to me by an amazing person I know -- this person works in one of our CAEPV member companies, and is a domestic violence survivor. I think a lot of times a highly employed, educated, well-dressed, well-spoken, talented, person like this is just the kind that people assume, "Well, it doesn't happen to people like that -- they are too much like ME."

I am here to tell you it DOES happen to people like me. Like you. Like your best friend. Like your neighbor. Like your sister. Like your brother. Like your co-worker. Like your boss. It can happen to anyone.

A.B shares, "I wrote this last night. . .from the eyes of a domestic violence survivor, but yet, still a victim."

(By A.B. Hurley © 2007)

Pain and hurt.
That's what I feel.
Too much confusion.
Nothing feels real

Blinded by tears.
Now I can't see.
Too much anger,
And it's slowly killing me

Empty and cold.
Ice covering my heart.
Too much unforgiveness
tearing me apart

I'm drowning.
I'm sinking.
I'm losing
this fight.

Who stirred the love in my heart
and then tainted it?

A.B. Hurley -- you are one amazing person! Thank you for your courage -- and for helping others through sharing your life and your heart.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Central Illinois Men Against Domestic Abuse Marching in Labor Day Parade

This coming Labor Day weekend, a bunch of men that are affiliated with the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (www.caepv.org) -- and many that are not -- are doing something I think is so cool -- they are marching with a float in a local Labor Day parade in Bloomington, Illinois.

The guys have named themselves Central Illinois Men Against Domestic Abuse (http://www.myspace.com/cimada_il) and have patterned themselves after another group they learned about in Gloucester, MA. Their goal is to have at least 500 men sign a petition against domestic violence and to have at least 100 men marching in the parade this coming weekend. They started this just a few months ago, so it has been cool to watch the progress of this idea from a thought to a reality and to see their enthusiasm in spreading the word through their community and to their friends and neighbors.

These are not guys who are the "usual suspects" -- you know, guys who already work in the field of domestic violence. These are guys who own businesses, who work at State Farm, who are pastors, who are high school principals, who are in law enforcement, who are community leaders. These are just regular guys who care about this issue and want to get involved.

It has been really wonderful to watch the guys who are part of the Corporate Alliance get involved in the community and learn more about domestic violence and then reach out like this -- they are just so passionate and caring about the issue.

You go guys!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

(Un)Safe Film Depicts What Happens When Abuse At Home Invades the Workplace

One in five employed adults is a victim of domestic violence. But what happens when abuse at home invades the workplace? (Un)Safe, an original, live-performance drama, has helped more than 350 executives at more than 70 companies explore this question since CAEPV Member Safe Horizon commissioned the work in 2005. (Un)Safe is the centerpiece of the education and training component of SafeWork, a national movement to help corporate leaders keep their employees safe and protect their company’s bottom line. I was privileged to have helped create the original live performance drama that premiered in 2005.

But now, even more companies can benefit. A short film version of (Un)Safe is in production through the generous support of CAEPV Member Altria Group. It is being directed by James Ponsoldt, who wrote and directed a feature film called “Off the Black” that debuted at the most recent Sundance Film Festival.

The new (Un)Safe film not only enables a deeper depiction of the impact of domestic violence on a corporate executive, her children, her colleagues, and her company, but also ensures that SafeWork trainings will have a wider reach in corporations throughout the country.

The film premiere for (Un)Safe will be hosted by actress Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on the evening of SafeWork’s National Launch date, September 25th

The launch date is special, because it is Liz Claiborne's third National "It's Time to Talk Day." You can learn more at http://www.caepv.org/about/program_detail.php?refID=29).

A question and answer session with the director and cast will follow the screening. The film will also be used for the first time earlier that day as part of a SafeWork training and information session. I will be working with Kristen Illes of Safe Horizon as we "use" the film for the first time in a SafeWork training on the 25th.

It has been amazing to watch the live drama transform to this film. It is truly a tool that I believe will help managers understand what happens to victims of domestic violence in a way that no "talking points" can. I can't wait for September 25! And it is pretty cool that Mariska Hargitay is hosting the "film premiere" -- I must say! I think this is just one more way to draw attention to the importance of this issue and help employers understand their role in addressing domestic violence as a workplace issue.

If you are interested in learning more about SafeWork, you can check out Safe Horizon's website at http://www.safehorizon.org/page.php?nav=fp_sw&page=safework.

Friday, August 10, 2007


This week I am just "shamelessly plugging" a free web conference that I am participating in -- I think it will be pretty cool because it is mostly dialogue and lots of resources! If you are interested, here is the information:

Date and Time: August 15, 2007 - 2 PM Eastern Time, 1 PM Central, 12 PM Mountain, 11 AM Pacific

Host: David Lee, Prevention Connection
Presenters: Larry Cohen & Elizabeth Waiters, Prevention Institute

Kim Wells, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
Douglas Leach, Blue Shield Against Violence, Blue Shield of California Foundation
Johnny Lee, Peace at Work
Keshia M. Pollack, Ph.D., MPH, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Registration: Registration is now open. Click here to register. This session will be restricted to the first 400 people who sign up.

Cost: Free

Learning Objectives:
Explore how to most effectively incorporate primary prevention (domestic violence) into the workplace setting

Hear from those who have made changes for violence prevention in the business sector
Experiment with the use of technology

What is a Web Conference? A web conference is an opportunity to attend an online workshop by watching the presentation from your computer screen (using a regular internet connection) and hearing the presentation through your telephone. Web conferences feature opportunities to participate in online question & answering session and a live text chat between participants. If for some reason you are unable to join on your computer, you can print out slides of presentations and listen along on the phone.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reese Witherspoon Is Avon's Global Ambassador

Avon Products, Inc. announced earlier this week that it signed world-renowned, Oscar-winning actress, Reese Witherspoon, as the company’s first ever Global Ambassador. In this newly-established role, Ms. Witherspoon will serve as the Honorary Chairman of CAEPV Member the Avon Foundation, focusing on breast cancer, domestic violence and emergency relief initiatives, and she will be the spokeswoman for Avon’s beauty brands and Sales Representatives.

The Avon Foundation and Ms. Witherspoon will partner in raising awareness for the Foundation’s programs in the areas of breast cancer, domestic violence and emergency relief. The Avon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 1955 with the mission of championing the health and well being of women globally through its philanthropic efforts.

“I am very excited to be partnering with Avon. Avon is more than an iconic world class beauty leader — it is a company that is known the world over as a crusader for women’s causes,” said Ms. Witherspoon. “I am truly impressed by how Avon has been able to effect real change in the communities in which it does business, and by how committed the company is to providing economic and personal fulfillment to women all over the world. I feel a great responsibility in my own life to give back to society. Now, as the Honorary Chairman of the Avon Foundation, I am proud to be joining in the great philanthropic work that is already underway.”

I think this is really cool -- I have noticed how much attention this has drawn to the issue of domestic violence since the announcement. People really admire Reese Witherspoon and her attention on the issue may cause them to think about it as they never have before.

Salma Hayek has also been involved with the Avon Foundation and with the issue of domestic violence and has been an outspoken celebrity regarding its effects on families. I remember hearing her speak about it, and I will never forget one thing she said. Ms. Hayek said people often ask her why she is involved with talking about domestic violence when she was not involved in it personally.

Here is the quote that stuck with me: "People ask me, 'Why are YOU involved in this issue?', and I ask, 'Why are you NOT?" (Salma Hayek)

Friday, July 27, 2007


I am really excited about CAEPV Member Safe Horizon's planned national launch of SafeWork, an initiative to help corporate leaders keep their employees safe and protect their bottom line.

We have been a national partners in the SafeWork initiative since 2005, and we will be joining Safe Horizon on September 25th for a day full of exciting events.

The launch corresponds with CAEPV Member Liz Claiborne’s annual It’s Time to Talk Day, and Liz Claiborne, Safe Horizon, CAEPV and other partners are planning activities including a CEO roundtable, a training session and a film premiere.

If you don't know what "It's Time to Talk Day" is all about, it is a day set aside to "take a moment to talk" about an issue that is really pretty hard for people to know how to address -- domestic violence. However, there are lots of ways to "talk" about it -- in terms of healthy relationships and all the areas those matter -- the home, the workplace, the community, our faith communities, our dating relationships, online, etc. By opening the door and just asking people to "take a moment to talk" we hope they can take some small steps toward educating themselves about the issue, or perhaps helping someone else.

If you are interested in learning more, visit the It’s Time to Talk Day page on our Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (www.caepv.org) website for the latest information.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Survey Finds Employees Under More Mental Stress Than Ever

If half-year results of a Bensinger, DuPont & Associates survey are a true indicator, then employees are under more mental stress than ever.

The Chicago-based professional services company says demand for its employee assistance programs has spiraled upward 74 percent during the first half of 2007 compared with the same period a year ago. That is an amazing increase!

This is how it broke down -- more than a third (36 percent) of the callers called to request help with mental health issues. Nineteen percent (19 percent) requested help with legal issues, while 18 percent needed assistance to resolve problems with family and personal relationships.

Now -- here is my question: How many of those calls do you suppose were in some way related to domestic violence? Most obvious would be the 18 percent needing assistance to resolve problems with family and personal issues, but you also have to consider that those calling for assistance with mental health issues like depression could also be dealing with abusive relationships. In addition, it would not be far-fetched to think that those requesting legal help could be doing so to get out of an unsafe relationship.

I say all of this because I am curious how those numbers would have broken out if the employee assistance programs (EAPs) were measuring them that way. As EAPs begin to realize the impact that domestic violence has on employees' worklife and on presenting problems such as those highlighted in this survey, I wonder if we will see it highlighted as an issue in the future.

After all, you don't get the answer to a question you don't ask, do you?

Friday, July 13, 2007

American Domestic Violence Crisis Line Is Finalist For "A Better World" National Award

I am so excited that one of our CAEPV members -- the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line -- was the regional winner of the “A Better World Awards Program” competition in April and received $5,000.00.

Now, they are in the running to receive $100,000.00! They are competing with 20 other charities – and the charity that receives the most votes between July 9th and August 9th will receive the $100,000.00.

They are a really cool organization -- they help Americans who are victims of domestic violence and living overseas by assisting them in returning safely to the US. It was started by a woman named Paula Lucas on a shoestring budget. Paula has a passion for this issue because she has been there herself.

Paula and her children lived in the Middle East, where they suffered horrible abuse by her former husband. Paula successfully escaped with her children and returned to the U.S. Had her husband or his family caught her, she would have been imprisoned and would have never seen her children again. Having to fight in the U.S. to retain legal custody of her own children, Paula learned that no programs existed to assist American citizens wishing to repatriate, particularly women leaving abusive marriages overseas. That is why she started the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line.

If you think it is worth your time, you can vote for the American Domestic Violence Crisis LIne each day between now and August 9th and help them create a better world for battered American women and children around the world. All of these families originate from a state in the USA, so your vote, and the votes of your friends, co-workers and family, can really count to bring these families back home to safety.

To vote, register on line at http://www.rezoom.com/ABETTERWORLD/.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Florida Enacts Domestic Violence Leave Act

A domestic violence leave act that went into effect in Florida on July 1, 2007 requires employers with fifty (50) or more employees to provide up to three days' leave for a variety of activities connected with domestic violence issues. Employees who have worked for employers for three (3) months or longer are eligible. Whether leave is paid or unpaid has been left to the discretion of the employer.

The law covers leave for specific activities such as:
  • Seeking an injunction for protection against domestic violence or repeat violence, or sexual violence
  • Obtaining medical care or mental health counseling or both for the employee or a family or household member to address injuries resulting from domestic violence
  • Obtaining services from victims services organizations such as a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center
  • Making the employee's home secure from the perpetrator of domestic violence or finding a new home to escape the perpetrator
  • Seeking legal assistance to address issues arising from domestic violence or attending or preparing for court related proceedings arising from the act of domestic violence.

Under the law, employees are required to provide "appropriate advance notice" of the need for leave, unless prevented from doing so because of imminent danger to the health or safety of the employee or a family member. The amount of notice required is determined by company policy.

Employees must exhaust any available annual vacation or personal leave and sick leave, if applicable, unless the employer waives this requirement. Employers must keep confidential all information relating to leave for domestic violence.

Employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining, and denying the exercise or attempt to exercise the rights provided by this law. Additionally, employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for exercising his or her rights. A person claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of the law may file a lawsuit in state circuit court seeking damages (monetary relief such as loss wages and benefits) or equitable relief (such as reinstatement) or both. To read the legislation, visit http://tinyurl.com/37v67k.

As I indicated in my last post, more and more states are passing such legislation, and so far, most employers have not indicated that allowing such leave is burdensome. The leave varies greatly from state to state, so an employee should not make an assumption that just because a law was passed in Florida under certain parameters or recently in Oregon under others that the law would be similar in his or her state, or that his or her state would have such a law at all.

As for employers, it is a very good idea to check and see if any such laws have been passed in your state - you may be surprised. If not, you may want to consider providing flexible leave policies anyway if you do not already do so. What do I mean by this? I mean allowing employees to take PTO (paid time off) for whatever reason is needed without having to designate the time as vacation or sick leave. This allows flexibility for all employees -- not just victims of domestic violence -- in how they use their leave benefits. It also allows you to be "ahead of the curve" should your state pass legislation allowing such leave.

Above all, by providing flexible leave, you have provided not only for the safety of that particular employee, but potentially your entire workforce. It is something to consider.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oregon Governor Signs Bill Allowing Victims of Domestic VIolence and Sexual Assault to Take Unpaid Leave

On May 25, 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 946 into law, allowing survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to take unpaid leave from their jobs to get services or treatment.

It is interesting to note that the bill also won support from Rob Quesnel of Tualatin, the Oregon director of American Family Insurance, the nation's third largest mutual-insurance company. He also leads the board of a domestic-violence shelter. "In many cases, a woman's place of employment is the only safe haven she has," he said. "This bill will help their safe havens continue to be safe."

There was no opposition to the bill, which is similar to laws in nine other states. The bill would allow unpaid leave for survivors to secure their homes or move, and give them time to seek law enforcement or legal help, medical attention, crisis-center services and counseling.

It applies to employers with six or more workers. Employers could limit leave time if it would create an undue hardship on the business, and the leave must be "reasonable." Accrued vacation leave or other paid leave could be used. Rules will be specified by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries, which administers Oregon's family-leave law.

The bill went into effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor.

You may wonder why the director of an insurance company would be proactively support such a bill -- after all, why would an employer want a state required leave bill?

I am guessing a few things:

1) This particular employer leads the board of a domestic violence shelter so he is aware of the importance of job security for victims of domestic violence -- as well as the importance of victims being able to get safely to court, to services, and to shelter. The leave law signed by the Oregon Governor allows for this without the victim risking his or her job, and without the employer facing an undue hardship.

2) This employer is also director of an insurance company. Insurers understand something many employers do not -- the real cost of domestic violence as a health issue. It may be that this is a case of "enlightened self-interest" -- an employer recognizing that if a victim of domestic violence can safely get the help needed, injuries and lost work are less likely in the future, thus reducing absenteeism, turnover, lost productivity, healthcare costs, and the also keeping the workplace safer.

In the state in which I live (Illinois) we have had a similar law since August of 2003, and employers have not found the law to be an undue burden.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dating Violence and Sexual Assault Increase Suicide Risk

Here is a new study that gives us another reason to be proactive about preventing abusive relationships in young people -- a study of 8,080 public high school students in New York City finds that females who recently experienced dating violence and males who experienced sexual assault some time in their lives are more likely to report suicide attempts than their counterparts without similar histories of violence.

“Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Suicide Attempts Among Urban Teenagers” is published in the June 2007 edition of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. In the survey, 9.6 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males reported a lifetime history of sexual assault -- first of all, those are heartbreaking percentages all by themselves.

Then to the dating violence itself -- 10.6 percent of females and 9.5 percent of males said they had experienced dating violence in the past year. Dating violence was defined as being hit, slapped or hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Adolescent girls who reported dating violence were 60 percent more likely to report one or more suicide attempts in the past year, the survey found, and males who reported sexual assault were four times as likely to have attempted suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents.

(An interesting twist is that a history of sexual assault in females and a history of dating violence in males did not increase the rates of attempted suicide.)

The study did not assess why dating violence is associated with suicide attempts, but the authors note that other studies have found that teenagers who are depressed are more likely to enter into violent relationships, and that dating violence can lead to mental health issues.

Researchers surveyed 8,080 students age 14 and older in 87 New York City public high schools.

This is why the new National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, loveisrespect.org, is such an important and valuable resource. If you have not taken the opportunity to view the web-based portion of the resource, please do so. It offers live-chat from 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM Central Time as well as a toll-free 24 hour hotline at 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Verizon Wireless Polls Men, Finds Vast Majority Think The Workplace Should Address Domestic Violence

On June 7, CAEPV Member Verizon Wireless released the results of the first-ever “Father’s Day” poll of 1,020 American men, and found broad support for employer-based efforts to address domestic violence. What did they find? Here are just a few results:

87% said employers should provide information for victims about how to get help
83% said employers should have policies in place to assist victims in getting help, including job security if they take leave to get help
77% said employers should provide training for supervisors/managers on supporting victims
72% said employers should provide information/resources with guidance on talking to kids about violence-free relationships

The poll also found that 61% of those surveyed thought employers should be doing more to address domestic violence.

For full results of the poll, click here or visit http://aboutus.vzw.com/communityservice/pollresults.html.

I was actually pretty surprised by these poll results. Since I spend my time talking with people about domestic violence as a workplace issue, people are not usually quite so aware of it until you start to explain how it impacts productivity and absenteeism and healthcare and turnover and workplace safety. Then they start to understand that you are not talking about getting into people's "private business," but rather taking proactive steps to address a workplace issue that affects employees and employers.

Clearly from this poll, there is a really good understanding from men in the US that workplaces can and should be addressing domestic violence in this way. That was really a great discovery.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google Reaches Out To DV Community Before Releasing "Street View"

You have probably heard that Google recently released a new mapping tool called Street View - a feature that combines street-level 360-degree photos with Google's now well known 2-D online maps. It is my understanding that the images were created by a special truck that has driven roads in five United States cities. If you have seen them, they are VERY detailed. While on the one hand it is amazing technology, it is a bit disconcerting. While only public places are to be part of Street View, privacy issues and stalking come to mind -- it would not take much for a person to find your workplace or place of business using this tool.

And what about a domestic violence shelter?

Well, before releasing the new photo-enabled product to the world, Google reached out to the National Network to End Domestic Violence to make sure that the business listings didn't include women's shelters and created a way for local domestic violence groups to get photos of shelters removed if they appear on Street View.

Shelter and victim advocates can request an image be taken down via the site. The image will initially be blacked out, and after two weeks, it will disappear and simply not be part of the site's navigation, according to Cindy Southworth who heads the NNEDV's technology efforts, known as the Safety Net Project.

While that is a great idea, I guess you could still "identify" a blacked out image because you would recognize it was something you were not supposed to see and identify it that way? I am not sure. At any rate, it was wise that those involved in this technology at Google saw the downside before it went live and addressed it -- for the potential safety of those involved in family violence who are using shelters or other facilities that need safe locations.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CAEPV Members Named Among 2007 Best Companies for Multicultural Women

Corporate Alliance members Allstate, American Express, Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless were all named among the 2007 Best Companies for Multicultural Women by Working Mother. This year, Working Mother gave the most weight to the representation, recruitment and retention of women of color. The magazine analyzed the workforce profiles of companies, including the number of women of color, women in top positions and top earners; programs for women of color; and work/life programs such as childcare, elder care and time off following childbirth.

This is awesome and the companies we are fortunate to work with are often named to such "blue ribbon" lists. However -- I often wonder why lists for "best places to work" or "best places for working mothers" don't include programs and policies to address intimate partner violence in their analysis or benchmarking? After all, these are cutting edge standards that are certainly beneficial to employee health, safety and welfare.

I really look forward to the day that the "bar is raised" to include partner violence workplace programs in these lists -- and hope it happens soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Study Finds Workplace Homicide Trends Decline in US, but Domestic Violence at Work Declines Least

A new study finds that workplace homicides have actually declined in the US at a greater rate than homicides in the US in general.

The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that overall, there was a significant decline in the rates of occupational homicide of approximately 6% per year during the study time period (1993 – 2002); this decline was found to be statistically greater than the decline of all US homicides (5% per year).

However, the study found that while workplace homicides have declined, the declines have not occurred uniformly across demographic and occupational categories. Unfortunately, the researchers state, “Type IV workplace homicides—that is, those involving a personal relationship between the worker and the offender—have actually declined significantly less than overall workplace homicides and declined the least of the four types. Future research should explore the extent to which workplace homicides of intimates are a function of the victim being protected in other settings, but still being vulnerable on the job.”

To read the study, Trends in Workplace Homicides in the U.S., 1993–2002: A Decade of Decline, visit the Articles & Advice section of the CAEPV website by clicking here.

South Carolina Attorney General's Office Launches Statewide Domestic Violence Campaign with Wal-Mart

In October 2006, CAEPV Member South Carolina Office of the Attorney General partnered with Wal-Mart on a pilot public awareness campaign to fight domestic violence in South Carolina. Domestic violence awareness posters were displayed in the women's restrooms and dressing rooms of five Wal-Mart stores in the Pee Dee area with tear-off resource cards, written in both English and Spanish, listing the telephone numbers for domestic violence hotlines and local shelters. This effort allowed customers and associates to privately gather resource information.

The effort worked! In the three months following the start of the project, the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault saw a 60% increase in the number of calls they received to their victim hotline.

On May 8, 2007, the South Carolina Attorney General's Office and Wal-Mart announced they are taking the program statewide to fight domestic violence. With an additional $10,000 donation from Wal-Mart, the awareness program also includes billboards and the newly created website: You Break The Silence.

To learn more about the campaign and view the campaigns posters and billboards, go to http://www.scattorneygeneral.com/newsroom/posters.php.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

CAEPV Named Finalist in "No Private Matter!" Competition

We are delighted to announce that the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (www.caepv.org) has been chosen a finalist in Changemakers's collaborative competition, “No Private Matter! Ending Abuse in Intimate and Family Relations.”

Changemaker’s notes the global response was unprecedented for this, their ninth, collaborative competition with 242 entries from 46 countries. By naming CAEPV a competition finalist, they have honored our CAEPV member companies for outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability. Congratulations to our members.

Online voting for the three competition winners begins April 17 and runs to April 30. Winners will be announced May 1st. Please go to www.changemakers.net to view the entries and vote.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Safe Horizon Expands Public Awareness Campaign to National Level

CAEPV Member Safe Horizon recently partnered with the New York City Council on an exciting new public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the impact of violence and abuse on the lives of teens, young adults and children, and share information about lifesaving resources and services for those affected by violence and abuse in New York City. Now the campaign is going to a national level with information reaching across the US. Here are just a few examples of the national outreach:
· PSAs on thousands of office building elevator screens in New York City and 18 other major U.S. cities (e.g., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C.)
· Full-page ads in Essence (May), Redbook (May and June), People en Espanol (June) and other major publications· Celebrity PSAs (Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann; Malaak and Chris Rock; Emme Aronson) on ClearChannel’s Premiere Network and other stations
· Highway billboards in Los Angeles
· Safe Horizon has also joined forces with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, placing their numbers on materials to ensure that people across the nation can reach services in their own communities.
To learn more about the campaign, view all the great downloadable materials, go to http://getinvolved.safehorizon.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PAC2007_landing.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New York City Council and Safe Horizon Unveil Ad Campaign to Combat Domestic Violence

The New York City Council (in partnership with CAEPV Member Safe Horizon) unveiled a new advertising campaign April 4 to combat domestic violence. The $1.7 million public awareness program is aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds -- a group at the highest risk of being abuse victims. With the help of private contributions, pro-bono work, and $400,000 from the City Council, these ads will appear across the city to let New Yorkers know the warning signs.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn is even doing her part; she had one of the ads temporarily tattooed on her arm. The goal: to let domestic violence victims know help is available. "We want to make sure there are services there for people,” said Quinn. “We also need to make sure that people know about those services, and that's why this campaign is so important." The campaign is expected to run through the end of May. For more information on the campaign, including downloadable materials, click here.

Lifetime Devotes April To Multi-Media "End Violence Against Women" Campaign

CAEPV Member Lifetime Television has devoted the month of April to a campaign to end violence against women. This year Lifetime is expanding its Emmy-winning campaign to "End Violence Against Women" with powerful original programming, celebrity PSAs and content on all multi-media platforms; a new focus on helping women around the world through a partnership with UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and its Goodwill Ambassador, Oscar winner Nicole Kidman; a viral effort to spawn awareness and action headlined by Grammy winner Martina McBride; and a grassroots initiative in communities across the country with screenings and events on college campuses and by teaming up with multi-Grammy winner Christina Aguilera on her "Back to Basics" tour.

Check out Lifetime’s ”End Violence Against Women” mini-site. From there you can “get the facts” about topics like domestic violence and its impact on the workplace, watch PSAs with Christina Aguilera and Nicole Kidman, learn how to take action, and much more!

As just one example of taking action, Lifetime will be heading to Washington, DC April 16 - 19. Together with partner organizations, they’ve planned a week's worth of special events to rally politicians, activists, celebrities and survivors around this important cause. Some of the issues that will be addressed include sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and sex trafficking — acts of violence that affect one in three women around the world.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Verizon Wireless "Great Place To Work Ads" Feature HopeLine and Domestic Violence Survivors

CAEPV Member Verizon Wireless is running a series of “Great Place to Work” ads – with a twist. They all carry a message about domestic violence and Hopeline. Newspaper ads will appear in publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as state capital newspapers in Albany, Trenton, Annapolis, and Richmond. In addition, there will be radio ads featuring those highlighted in the print ads. The ads began appearing on March 15 and the campaign will run for approximately a year. To see an example of one of the ads click here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

50,000 Americans Touched By Domestic Violence Programs In One Day

In a single day, domestic violence programs served more than 50,000 adults and children in the United States. This astonishing data comes from the release of Domestic Violence Counts: the National Census of Domestic Violence Services (NCDVS) – a first of its kind survey. Conducted by CAEPV Member the National Network to End Domestic Violence and health economists at Harvard University, the NCDVS is the most recent data documenting the number of individuals served by domestic violence programs. In addition to providing a national snapshot, the NCDVS report also includes state-level data.

More than 1,200 domestic violence programs from across the country (62%) participated in the survey, giving advocates and researchers a glimpse into the number of individuals seeking services, the types of services requested and the number of service requests that went unmet due to a lack of resources. However, because the survey was not able to obtain a count from all domestic violence programs, advocates say the data only skims the surface. “While the census provides advocates and policymakers with tremendous insight into the need for domestic violence services, the sobering fact is that there are still many more victims who need our help,” said Else. “We need to ensure that resources are available to not only meet current needs, but to also increase public awareness so that all victims know help is available.”

The NCDVS collected a national, unduplicated count of adults and children who received life-saving services from domestic violence programs on November 2, 2006. During the 24-hour survey period 47,864 received direct services, including:
· more than 14,000 Americans sought refuge in emergency shelters
· almost 8,000 lived in transitional housing facilities
· more than 25,000 received non-residential services such as counseling, legal advocacy and children’s support groups

However, the survey found there was still a significant need for services. More than 10% of requests for services were referred elsewhere because domestic violence programs did not have the resources to aid them. “Funding cuts preclude us from employing an overnight advocate,” reported a domestic violence program in California which participated in the census. “Many times lack of overnight coverage is a deterrent for victims seeking shelter.”

In addition to providing shelter and advocacy services, domestic violence programs invested a significant amount of time and energy raising public awareness in their communities. During the survey period, domestic violence programs informed more than 40,000 Americans about domestic violence, available resources, and what they could do to help prevent the violence. Participating programs logged an unduplicated count of adults and children accessing their services between 8 a.m. EST on November 2, 2006 to 7:59 a.m. EST on November 3, 2006. This “snapshot” approach allowed researchers to document the scope of services without collecting victim-identifying data. To learn more click here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New Study Finds 1 in 4 US Women Over Age 65 Have Been Victims of Domestic VIolence

About one in four women older than 65 has been the victim of physical, sexual or psychological violence at the hands of a spouse or other intimate partner, according to a study done in two northwestern states. About 3.5% of the women surveyed had suffered violence in the past five years, and 2.2% in the past year. "Intimate partner violence is not a problem only for younger women," said Amy Bonomi, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
The study appears in the February 2007 issue of The Gerontologist. It involved telephone interviews with 370 women aged 65 years and older who belonged to a health care system in western Washington state and northern Idaho. Bonomi said this is one of only a handful of studies to focus solely on the depth and breadth of violence perpetrated by intimate partners against older women.The results showed that 26.5% of the women surveyed reported violence by an intimate partner over their lifetimes. Of those who reported abuse, most were the victims of multiple types. "It was very rare that women experienced only one type of violence," Bonomi said. "Over half experienced two or more types of violence. That's troubling."
About 18% reported sexual or physical abuse and 22% were the victims of psychological abuse, including being threatened, called derogatory names or having their behavior controlled by their partner. The psychological abuse experienced by women in this study was not minor, Bonomi said. About 70% of women who experienced verbal threats by an intimate partner said these threats were severe. Additionally, women who reported controlling behavior had experienced this abuse for an average of 10 years.
In spite of the breadth and depth of violence in this group of women, only 3% said they had been asked by a health care provider about physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since age 18. "Not enough doctors and other health care professionals are screening women for intimate partner abuse," Bonomi said. "The health care setting is a crucial focus for victims, because it provides a safe, confidential place for ongoing interactions between abused women and their health care providers."While the prevalence of violence found in this study is startling enough, Bonomi said it is probably an underestimate of how much it actually occurred. One reason is that women were asked to recall abuse over a lifetime. There may have been a tendency for women to downplay violence experienced early in life. In addition, women who participated in the study were consistently insured and highly educated. Violence rates tend to be higher in women without consistent insurance and women with less formal education.
Intimate partner violence takes not only a personal toll, but a financial one as well, according to Bonomi. In an earlier study by Bonomi and her colleagues, findings showed the health care costs for abused women were 19% higher than for non-abused women. "We found that health care costs for abused women were still higher even five years after the abuse stopped," Bonomi said. "This underscores the need to pay attention to the issue of intimate partner violence in health care settings." The study was supported by the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality. (Source: Ohio State University)

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Corporate Alliance Website Helps Employers With Much Needed Resources To Recognize & Respond To Domestic Violence

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) is expanding its website (http://www.caepv.org/) to provide information, tools, research, and best practices to assist employers to help respond to the impact of domestic violence on the workplace. Information on http://www.caepv.org/ can help employers of any size provide a safe and supportive work environment for employees who may be enduring intimate partner violence and abuse. The extensive upgrade of http://www.caepv.org/ was made possible through a grant from Verizon, in order to ensure that employers can easily implement workplace programs to help their employees and create safer and more productive workplaces.

The site provides employers with the following:

-The business case for understanding domestic violence as a workplace issue— including the latest statistics on health care costs, productivity, absenteeism, and workplace safety.
Simple steps companies can take to address the issue proactively – including sample policies, articles and training materials.

-Best practices and program ideas from employers across the US and around the world – including Kaiser Permanente, Liz Claiborne Inc., and Verizon Wireless.

-The latest research and findings on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace - such a comprehensive inventory of US workplace prevention practices created in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CAEPV.

-An RSS feed to inform subscribers when the site is updated with the latest information on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace.

A national benchmark survey of 1200 employed adults released by CAEPV in October 2005 found that intimate partner violence has a wide and far-reaching effect on Americans’ working lives – with 21% of those surveyed identifying themselves as victims of domestic violence. In October 2006, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 24% of workplace violence incidents reported by employers in the past year were domestic violence-related. However, only 4% of workplaces in the US provide any kind of training to employees regarding domestic violence and its impact on the workplace.

CAEPV Executive Director Kim Wells said, “Because domestic violence’s impact does not stop at the office front door, America’s employers need to take action – by putting in place accessible programs and policies for colleagues and victims alike. Fortunately, effective programs are easy to establish and the information available on CAEPV’s new website will help employers begin to take the steps needed to create a safe and supportive work environment.”

Wells noted that the CAEPV website is considered by many across the US and around the world to be the central resource for information and resources related to domestic violence and the workplace. She said, “It is vital we are responsive in our efforts to assist employers anywhere at anytime -- and thanks to Verizon, we are able to do so through the updated technology and resources of our website."The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) is a leading force in the fight against intimate partner violence and its effects on the workplace. It is the only national organization of its kind founded by business leaders and focused 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. For more information, visit http://www.caepv.org.

Verizon delivers technology that touches life. The Verizon Foundation uses that technology and its financial resources to improve literacy and K-12 education; help families victimized by domestic violence; and improve the delivery of health care. For more information on the foundation, visit http://www.verizon.com/foundation.

Friday, February 16, 2007

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline "loveisrespect.org" Now Available

In response to the alarming rates of teen dating abuse through technology and the severe knowledge gap between parents and their teens, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) and Liz Claiborne Inc. joined together to launch loveisrespect.org, The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH). This 24-hour national web-based and telephone resource was created to help teens (ages 13-18) experiencing dating abuse and is the only helpline in the country serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Although there are national hotlines for adults, teens have special needs and require specific expertise, information and communication mechanisms for overcoming dating violence. Cumulative research from the NDVH indicates that 10 percent of the 17,000 calls answered monthly at the Hotline are from teenagers and young adults.

The first of its kind, NTDAH will operate via telephone and Web 24 hours a day and will be staffed by both teen and adult advocates. Teens (and parents) anywhere in the country can call toll free, 866-331-9474 or log on to the interactive Web site, loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate, confidential assistance. The site will offer secure, live interactive chat to teens, which will present them with a familiar technology and an accessible means for communication. While online or on the phone, teens will be given support as well as referrals to local resources in their hometown to provide them with the help they need.
· Hours of Operation: NTDAH will be staffed by trained volunteer and professional advocates 24 hours a day. Teenage peer advocates will staff the helpline and Web site during a block of time each day.
· Web site: NTDAH offers a live, interactive Web site -- loveisrespect.org - to provide a safe, confidential online resource for teens to ask questions, share experiences or express their feelings. The site features live interactive, instant chat with advocates. There will also be message boards, blogs as well as other valuable information to help teens cope with and understand healthy dating behavior and relationships.
· Phone number: 866.331.9474(866-331-8453 for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing)
· Staffing: Trained peer volunteers between the ages of 16-24 will provide advocacy during the peak hours of noon-2:00 a.m. (4:00 p.m. to midnight from February-May 2007). Trained adult advocates will provide assistance to peer advocates as well as overflow assistance and staffing during off-peak hours.
· Training: All volunteers have received more than 40 hours of training from current NDVH supervisory staff, survivors of teen violence and other experts in the field. Additionally, advocates will receive ongoing advanced training for issues related to violence to further assist teens in dealing with relationships.
· Confidentiality: NTDAH will not collect or maintain data that will compromise confidentiality such as IP addresses or caller ID. NTDAH will make all efforts to ensure that information is anonymous and confidential including training of staff to assure that privacy is of utmost concern.

Liz Claiborne Sponsors Technology & Teen Dating Abuse Survey

A new survey on teens and dating abuse reveals that an alarming number of teens in dating relationships are being controlled, threatened and humiliated through cell phones and the Internet with unimaginable frequency. The research also reveals disturbing data that a significant majority of parents are completely unaware of this type of dating abuse and the dangers facing their teens. The survey was conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) for CAEPV Member Liz Claiborne Inc. Teens surveyed range in age from 13-18. Key Findings Include:

Teens report dating abuse via technology is a serious problem
-71% of teens regard boyfriends/girlfriends spreading rumors about them on cellphones and social networking sites as a serious problem.
-68% of teens say boyfriends/girlfriends sharing private or embarrassing pictures/videos on cell phones and computers is a serious problem.

Cell phone calls and texting at unimaginable frequency mean constant control day and night
-Nearly one in four teens in a relationship (24%) communicated with their partner via cellphone or texting HOURLY between midnight and 5:00am.
-One in three teens (30%) say they are text messaged 10, 20, 30 times an hour by a partner inquiring where they are, what they're doing, or who they're with.

Parents do not know about dating teens' constant contact
-67% of parents whose teens were checked up on 30 times per day on their cell phone were unaware this was happening.
-82% of parents whose teens were e-mailed or texted 30 times per hour were unaware this was happening.

Cell phones and the Internet have become weapons of teen dating abuse
-One in four teens in a relationship (25%) say they have been called names, harassed, or put down by their partner through cellphones and texting.
-One in five teens in a relationship (22%) have been asked to engage in sex by cellphone or the Internet when they do not want to.

Parents do not know about this abuse
-71% of parents were unaware that their teen is afraid of not responding to a cell phone call, text or IM message or e-mail for fear of what their partner might do.
-67% of parents were unaware that their teen was asked to have sex or engage in sexual acts via cell phone, e-mail, IM, or texting when they did not want to.

Parents believe technology makes dating abuse more prevalent and more hidden - yet few are doing anything about it
-57% of parents believe that computers and cell phones make abuse in teen dating relationships more likely to occur. And 53% of parents believe that computers and cell phones make abuse easier to conceal.
-But roughly one in four parents of teens (28%) say they limit their teenager's use of a cell phone and online communications with a partner.

Parents also do not know that their teens are victims of physical and sexual abuse
-75% of parents were unaware that their teen had been physically hurt or bruised by their partner.
-69% of parents were unaware that their teen was pressured by their partner to perform oral sex.
-58% of parents were unaware that their teen had been hit, slapped, pushed, punched, kicked or choked by their partner.

Click here to read the full report.

Friday, February 02, 2007

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week February 5 - 9; Liz Claiborne Announces New National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

This year, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives have again declared the first full week of February “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.” Both Houses of Congress are calling upon government representatives and agencies, private organizations and public officials to promote activities in their respective communities that raise awareness of teen dating violence and promote prevention strategies.

On January 17, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Patty Murray and Mike Crapo sent a letter to each Governor and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., asking for support of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, February 5 - 9, 2007. To date, over 50 national, state and local organizations are partners in this year’s initiative.

CAEPV Member Liz Claiborne Inc. and the National Domestic Violence Hotline are excited to announce the launch of the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline on February 7th, 2007. The opening of the new hotline coincides with the second annual National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week (February 5th - 9th, 2007), and it will mark the beginning of the first national peer crisis line designated specifically for teens and young adults who are experiencing violence in their relationships.

Teens and young adults will also be able to visit the Teen Dating Violence Hotline’s Web site, which will provide safe, confidential information on dating and relationship violence. Online message boards where teens can ask questions and share experiences, or just express their feelings will also be available. The Hotline and Web site will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with teen peer advocates on the lines from 12 pm to 2 am, a time when many calls are expected. Young adult advocates ages 18-24 will also provide overnight services and support to serve more college-aged youth.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Competition To Showcase World's Most Innovative Domestic Violence Prevention Programs

An unprecedented competition to find innovative solutions to the domestic violence that plagues families and communities in the United States and around the world began January 17, 2007. The competition, No Private Matter! Ending Abuse in Intimate and Family Relations, is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and utilizes Changemakers’ online, open source competition model. Dozens of violence prevention programs—based in the U.S. and countries around the world—are expected to propose novel approaches to help eliminate intimate partner and family violence.

The No Private Matter! competition, running through March 28 at www.changemakers.net, is designed not only to catalyze entrepreneurs to tackle this important issue but also to connect promising solutions with key decision makers, investors and health and social service providers. It also creates opportunities for peers to learn about and refine the strategies developed by their colleagues in order to advance the most promising strategies to end abuse.
A distinguished panel of judges will choose 12 finalists who are leading prevention programs that are innovative and effective, have significant social impact and are sustainable. All will be given myriad opportunities to showcase their programs. Three of the 12 will receive cash prizes of $5,000. The judges include Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler, RWJF Senior Program Officer Jeane Ann Grisso and Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention Director Cindy Waitt.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is delighted to partner with Changemakers to identify and promote the most promising solutions to keeping women and children safe,” Grisso said. “This innovative, open source competition allows us to engage a broad community of social entrepreneurs to help stop domestic violence in the U.S. and improve the health and well-being of children and families affected by abuse.”

The Changemakers competition model is focused on building a community of innovators solving complex social problems and has been used successfully to source and scale innovations on topics including disaster response and affordable housing. “No Private Matter!” is the ninth Changemakers competition. Entries are being accepted in the competition through March 28, and winners will be announced by Changemakers on May 1st.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2004 there were more than 625,000 nonfatal intimate partner victimizations in the United States, and the vast majority of victims were female. On average, more than three women a day in the U.S. are killed by intimate partners.
“No Private Matter” is the first in a series of competitions the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will sponsor with Changemakers this year; all involve pressing health and health care issues. (Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)