Friday, March 27, 2009

Even They Are Not Immune To Domestic Violence. . .

I was reading this Washington Post article today about Maryland lawmakers and the domestic violence legislation going forward in their General Assembly

The focus of the article is not so much about the legislation but the experiences of those in the General Assembly who have experienced domestic violence in their families and their lives. The title is “Abuse Bills Resonate With Several Maryland Lawmakers” and I honor the lawmakers who chose to share their heartbreaking stories with their colleagues.

What is also interesting to me is the article author’s commentary on this:

As the Maryland General Assembly has spent several weeks debating difficult bills that deal with domestic abuse, a sad truth has emerged: Even lawmakers have not been immune from the scourge of violence in the home.

And as a long-standing taboo on revealing painful experiences with the issue has been lifted, more and more have stepped forward to share their stories with colleagues.

I want to address both of these comments.

First, it is absolutely true that “even lawmakers have not been immune from the scourge of violence in the home.” No profession is immune from that painful scourge.

I recently had an interesting communication with a wonderful and well-meaning professional colleague who, after a long discussion about the impact of domestic violence on other workplaces, said to me “Thankfully, my office has no domestic violence issues that anybody is aware of. . . .If only all workplaces offered such a secure environment.”

That is really common thinking. . that because your workplace offers a very secure environment, or because there is a particular type of profession that works there, you don’t have domestic violence issues going on.

And while it may be true that you may have good security to keep scary people out. . .that does not change the scary things going on for people at home that impact them at work. . .nor does it take into account the potentially scary people you have working for you.

But as the author of the Washington Post article pointed out (without meaning to) it is not “expected” that this would happen to people in certain professions. Like lawmakers.

And to the author’s second point: It is so true that once people start sharing their stories, more and more step forward to share theirs and the curtain of silence is lifted. I have seen this time and time again. It is wonderful to see people share and be strengthened by being able to talk about what has happened to them and realize they are not alone.

I think the Maryland lawmakers who have shared their stories with colleagues and the rest of us have built yet another bridge to help us all understand that indeed domestic violence can (and does) “happen to anyone.”

Who works “anywhere.”

For more information on exactly how much domestic violence impacts the workplace, and what your workplace can do to address it, visit

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