Monday, March 24, 2008

Saved By Grace

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."

A.B. reminds us all that 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.

Saved by Grace

She lies quietly
On the cold tiles
Next to the porcelain tower
Of running water

No one can see her

She is frozen
Paralyzed with fear
As black-stained, trickling tears
Glaze the broken mirror

No one can hear her

She stares quietly
At the torn photograph
Underneath the jagged glass
Forming a watercolor

No one knows her

She looks at her arms
At the fingerprints of hate
Painted on her pale skin
In deep red and blue
Only one can save her


She closes her eyes
Praying with her last breath
As an angelic figure
Gathers her up and flies away
No one can hurt her


© ABH 3.17.2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Loss Prevention. . .And Maybe Saving the Next Cindy Bischof

So, today I am working on a bunch of presentations for upcoming workshops and talks, etc. -- specifically I am working on a particular presentation for loss prevention and recovery professionals (security professionals) on dealing with domestic violence as a workplace issue. These professionals are on the front lines when it comes to workplace safety/workplace violence issues, so they are often the first to recognize how much domestic violence affects a company. They are the "go to" people on this, and they really understand it.

At any rate, I am highlighting the risk assessment portion of the training and the sorts of things that these professionals will want to keep in mind when working with employees who are victims of domestic violence.

For example, we know that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence tends to be when the person is leaving or has left the relationship (in cases of homicide related to domestic violence, 75% of the time, the victim has been in the process of leaving or has left the relationship), we know that stalking behavior increases risk (including stalking at the workplace), and other such behaviors.

So as I am preparing this presentation, I see this heartbreaking article from the Chicago Tribune,0,6195124.story about a woman named Cindy Bischof and about all of the things that happened to her before her ex-boyfriend shot her dead in the parking lot of her office on March 7.

And the "risk assessment" bullet points regarding the behavior of Cindy's ex-boyfriend are eerily similar to the "risk assessment" bullet points for my presentation. Except that she is a person who is now dead and her family is grieving her loss. It is no longer academic. It is real life and real loss.

And so I am hoping as I talk with these great loss prevention professionals that we are able to further the work employers can do to help keep workplaces safe. And people safe. . and alive.

It is really hard for me to know that there is something people can do - that employers can do - to help and maybe keep things like this from happening -- and that only 15% of employers in the United States are doing it. (Of course, there is no guarantee, but we can certainly be more, right?)

If you want to do something as an employer, go to and learn more. That is why CAEPV is here -- to help employers address this issue.

And real loss prevention? Well that is not about products or inventory. . .that is about saving lives. And maybe helping to save the next Cindy Bischof.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Avon Announces Partnership With United Nations to End Violence Against Women

Do you think that celebrities help make a difference in creating awareness about important issues? I happen to think they do -- and admits it.

One thing I do know is that domestic violence is a subject that people are not very comfortable discussing (trust me, I am never the most popular table at the employee wellness fair) -- and anything that makes it more "high profile" (for lack of a better phrase) makes it easier to raise awareness. is really great. And Reese Witherspoon is certainly a person who can do that. And Avon and The Avon Foundation have done a wonderful job of working with Salma Hayek and now Reese Witherspoon to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence.

Reese Witherspoon was at the United Nations Tuesday, lending her celebrity to the new partnership between Avon and the United Nations Development Fund for Women [UNIFEM], in their efforts to end domestic violence globally. Ahead of International Women's Day this weekend, Avon CEO Andrea Jung announced the partnership between her company and UNIFEM, in which the Avon Foundation will match the first $500,000 in sales of a "Women's Empowerment Bracelet" for the U.N. Trust to End Violence Against Women. The bracelets are available through for $3.

Jung described domestic violence as a "pandemic" that affects up to one billion women worldwide. Witherspoon, honorary chairperson of the Avon Foundation and the Global Ambassador for Avon Products (nyse: AVP - news - people ), acknowledged the celebrity issue by thanking the media for covering the event--a not-so-subtle way of acknowledging that the room may not have been filled with celebrity photographers and reporters from People and US Weekly magazine if she weren't there. And at this point in the story, admits they may not have been there either had it not been for Reese Witherspoon. I think that is very cool of them.

Thanks to Witherspoon's presence, the issue will be read about by millions in celebrity magazines and on Web sites. For her part, the actress said, simply: "I'm happy to use my recognizability to bring awareness to this.

It is unfortunate that it takes a celebrity to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence, but the fact is it DOES make a difference -- and if that helps change or save a life, I think that is wonderful and I thank Reese Witherspoon for doing so!

If you are interested in a really cool bracelet, AND in something you can do to make a difference, check out the bracelet by clicking here.