Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Building a Community Response to Domestic Violence - It Takes Everyone

I am at the Innovation Through Collaboration: Building a Community Response to Family Violence national conference One of the cool things about this conference is that it has "tracks" -- Business, Legal, Victim Services, Health Care, and Faith.

I love that there is a business track for this conference. So many times when we talk about a coordinated community response to family violence, the community thinks of many players at the table - law enforcement, the educational community, the faith community, the medical community, service providers . . but often employers are not thought of as an important part of the community at the table.

Not only will workplaces employ victims (and batterers) but they are also a rich network of information and assistance for those they employ. After all, where do we spend a majority of our time? At work. Where do we have the potential to get a great deal of information about the the resources and assistance available in the community? At work.

And where are we likely to manifest the difficulties we are experiencing at home? At work.

And if workplaces better understand family violence because they are part of the collaboration, they are more likely to respond effectively.

It is a win-win for everyone in the community.

"Innovation Through Collaboration." It is a great title for a conference. . .and it is a great model for our communities. And it takes all of us to be part of it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What if the Abusive Person Works for You?

We (by we I mean the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence/CAEPV) spend a lot of time helping employers build policies and programs and infrastructure to keep their workplaces safe and to protect their most important asset - their employees.

A lot of that work tends to be focused around what an employer can do to help keep an employee who is a victim safe - things like making sure employees have access to resources both within the community and within the workplace (like the EAP, HR, security), giving the employee access to safe parking, perhaps changing work locations or work hours, removing a telephone number from an external directory. An employer can also be listed on an order of protection and have a copy of that order and work with the employee to enforce it by having a description of the perpetrator on file along with a photo. These and many other such ideas for assisting employees who are victims are available on our website at

But what do you do when your employee is the perpetrator? That does not seem quite so cut and dried, right? What if they did not perpetrate anything on your property? It is not your business, right?

Well maybe. . or maybe not. Just like in any good workplace violence policy, you should not allow ANY employee to use your workplace resources or time to threaten or abuse anyone - whether co-worker, family member, vendor or. . .well anyone.

If an employee of yours uses your telephones to call and harass a victim. . .they've potentially violated your policy. If they use your vehicle to check up on a victim. . .they've potentially violated your policy. If they use your computer to send a threatening email . . .you see the point.

So - it may well be that the perpetrator is ver well doing something on your property - it may not be exactly the same as hitting the person, but it may very well be threatening or stalking. . and at the very least it is not the use of your company resources in the way you would have wished.

So how much does this happen? Well one 2003 study by the Maine Department of Labor found that:

• 78% of surveyed perpetrators used workplace resources to express remorse or anger, check up on, pressure, or threaten their victim
•74% had easy access to their intimate partner’s workplace
•21% of offenders reported they contacted the victim at the workplace in violation of a no contact order

So that just gives you a little bit of an idea of the potential usage of an employer's workplace.

We are providing a webinar on May 12 with some awesome experts on this topic - unfortunately it filled up so fast that I can't offer the registration link through this blog. However that does tell you something about employers' interest in this issue.

The good news is that we will have a link with the video and audio of the webinar available once it is completed so if folks missed out they'll be able to view it. Not quite the same as participating,but they will be able to get some of the good information.

In the meantime, we do have great info on our site. . .and just remember - if you have victims working for you, you have batterers working for you too.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Domestic Violence - It's Everybody's Business

I have been thinking about writing this blog entry for a couple days now. This past week has been incredibly sad. I’ve had to do something a person should never have to do -- try to help people understand why fathers would kill their children – because it happened here where we are located, and then it happened in Washington State. I can explain some of the possible “whys” to people – but that is different than understanding it myself.

I can explain that an abuser can say or think “if I can’t have you, no one else can,” and by extension they can mean the children. Or an abuser wants to punish the victim of abuse in the worst way possible. And that is by killing the children. I can explain those things. . but it doesn’t mean I understand them.

You know, I can write and speak on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace, and I can tell you what how it affects your company and your employees. I can even tell you what you should do about it and give you great practices and great resources through our website at

I do know that helps make a difference. When companies address this issue it is “enlightened self interest” for them – especially in these turbulent times. And it is great for our society – when companies stand up and say “Hey, domestic violence IS our business –and we want to do something to address it” that sends a strong message to all segments of society – and to employees who are victims and abusers.

However, one of the things I have learned is that while the “business case” is vitally important, until an employer personally understands the very human cost of domestic violence, they won’t fully “get it.” Until they see the very human face of domestic violence, they won’t see it as their “business” and things won’t really change much.

Isn't that true for all of us?

This past week has been really, really personal for a lot of people – from Washington State to New York State and in between right here in Central Illinois. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered a loss.

I hope we all see these faces of people we may or may not know and learn from their incredible loss and act to make a difference. So there is not a next time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


We are pleased to announce that Rochelle Lefkowitz, President and Founder of Pro-Media Communications, has taken the SafeWork 2010 Pledge! We are especially proud of this since Pro-Media is a CAEPV member!

Pro-Media is a bicoastal communications firm dedicated to social change, infused with a commitment to justice, equality and progressive issues. Pro-Media represents some of the most widely-respected organizations and individuals in the fields of economic and social justice, intellectual freedom, women’s rights, health care, criminal justice reform, philanthropy, education and other progressive social issues – and so it makes perfect sense they would want to engage in addressing domestic violence education and awareness programs for their own employees.

To view the growing list of CEOs who have signed the SafeWork 2010 Pledge, click here. And what is the Pledge? It is very simple:

I am committed to addressing the issue of domestic violence in the workplace. I recognize that domestic violence impacts my employees, my company and my business. Therefore, I pledge to take action, lead change, and raise awareness as a member of SafeWork 2010.

CEOs sign the SafeWork 2010 Pledge, committing to address the impact of domestic violence in their workplace. To help them learn more about SafeWork 2010, they receive an awesome CEO Action Kit created by Safe Horizon and CAEPV provided by the generous support of The Allstate Foundation.

If you are interested in having your CEO sign the SafeWork 2010 Pledge, contact Joanna Colangelo at Safe Horizon at