I have been doing a lot of training stuff lately...creating trainings...consulting on trainings for other organizations...taping web-based trainings for one of our CAEPV member companies...
And in the midst of this in just the past few days, Yeardley Love has died in what appears to be an incident related to leaving an abusive relationship at the University of Virginia and a woman was killed at a Duke University Health Services clinic by a man with whom she had just ended a relationship.
And it got me thinking....while it is SO important to create workplace policies and programs to address domestic violence and to keep victims safe at work and to keep workplaces safe...it is also SO important to make sure that co-workers and friends understand the signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships and what to do if they are concerned that someone they care about may be unsafe.
Because -- let's face it -- many people never come to our trainings, our workshops, our presentations. Many people will never talk to their managers or their supervisors about the abuse going on their lives.
But they may talk to their friends or family members. Or friends or family members may be the people who first notice the unhealthy signs...and need to know what to do or what to say.
Don't get me wrong - trainings are vital and important. But we have to make sure we find ways to "go to the mountain" instead of expecting the "mountain" is going to come to us to find this information.
I am so grateful I spent a large part of my day yesterday on a streaming video training for one of our CAEPV member companies that was specifically geared toward friends and co-workers...giving them suggestions on what to look for, what to say, and how to care.
And also helping them understand that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when the person is leaving or has left the relationship -- like Yeardley Love.
These trainings can be streamed and viewed privately in a person's office-- when a person thinks he or she needs to view them.
Will that help? I hope so.
Will I keep telling anyone who will listen? You bet.
And by the way, here's my suggestion for how to talk with someone if you are concerned -- 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 are taking good care of one another, 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 assistance anytime, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or check out http://www.thehotline.org/. 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.
(And survivors....any comments or additional suggestions you have are most welcome! You know best what is helpful!)
So I will always keep on training at the workplace for managers and supervisors because that is really important. If you want help with that, you can check out our website at http://www.caepv.org/
But I will always remember that it isn't trainings that help change or save a life. It's people.
UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this blogpost, another young woman was killed this week at the workplace as the result of domestic violence. http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/2247318,old-navy-shots-fired-chicago-050710.article