Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Is Domestic Violence "Everybody's Business"?

We recently posted a story on our Facebook page about a person who heard her neighbors having a heated argument "screaming at each other"...she had her window opened and listened to the whole dispute that night but never called 911.

Her neighbor was killed.  Her alleged murderer was her boyfriend and a man with a history of domestic violence.  The woman who did not call said "I feel bad now that I didn't call 911. I could have prevented this."

You can read the story here.

Let's be clear - only ONE person is responsible for the murder...the person who did it.

But what is our responsibility when we see something or hear something that concerns us?  What if we see bruises on a co-worker?  What if we hear a heated argument at a neighbor's house? What if we are concerned for a child we see in a grocery store? What is OUR responsibility?

Should we walk away?  Or should we call 911?  Or somehow reach out?

We know that in the workplace, it is in an employer's "enlightened self interest" to have policies and programs and resources for employees (batterers and victims) involved in domestic violence because it impacts the workplace in terms of absenteeism, workplace productivity, healthcare costs, turnover, and workplace safety.  You can learn more about that here.

But what about in the rest of life?  In the community?  Is it in YOUR "enlightened self-interest" to make domestic violence your business?

I would say yes.  For this simple reason.

You may change -- or save -- a life.

You can read more in this blog about how to talk to someone you care about and there are links on this blog to resources.  But at the end of the day, we all have a decision to make. Will I make this "my business" or not?

I hope you do.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Phone Call I Don't Want To Get From You

Today I am sad. 

Why am I sad? Because we received another inquiry this morning from a company about addressing domestic violence as a workplace issue...because an employee had been killed in a murder-suicide by an intimate partner.

This is not how I want to do my job.  I want to help employers with resources and tools to address domestic violence as a workplace issue BEFORE a precious life is lost....not after.   And I know that no employer wants to make this call either....if they had known, or had any idea...they would have done something proactive and preventative at the workplace.  (Granted this is no guarantee that life will not be lost, but it can certainly do a lot to raise awareness and provide more resources and tools...and can help with the safety of the workplace.)

The difficulty is is very hard for employers to "see" or understand that domestic violence might be impacting their particular workplaces....until it does.  We can share statistics and warning signs and sample policies and all of the information available on our website at ...but if an employer does think that is likely to impact their workforce...they won't act.

It doesn't matter what "kind" of workforce you have - or what industry - you name it, domestic violence is impacting the workforce.   Banking, retail, human services, telecommunications, insurance, healthcare, faith community, education, name it, it is there. (If you think there is a place it is not, I would love to have that discussion with you.)

So please....take a moment to consider that:

  • 21% of full-time employed adults are victims of domestic violence
  • 64% of them say their work was significantly impacted by the abuse
  • The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year
  • Domestic violence coming to the workplace accounts for 24% of workplace violence incidents

You can find more statistical information at .

But please -- don't let one of your employees (or your workplace) be a statistic because you haven't considered what you can do proactively to address domestic violence at the workplace.

Because it can - and does -- happen anywhere. To anyone.  Including to people who work at places like yours.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Civil Protective Orders - Are They An Effective Tool in Domestic Violence Prevention?

Employers should be interested in this - a study from the National Institutes of Justice (NIJ Journal No. 299) titled "Perspectives on Civil Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases: The Rural and Urban Divide" found that civil protective orders can be an effective tool for domestic violence prevention.

This is important information in the discussion about the effectiveness of civil protective orders.  For example, I know people who work with domestic violence victims who tell them "don't even bother to get a protective order because it doesn't help at all."

This study found subtle jurisdictional differences influence how women experience civil protective orders.

It looked at the impact of civil protective orders for domestic violence victims in five Kentucky jurisdictions. Civil protective orders, sometimes known as restraining orders, may cover various situations, such as ordering an assailant to avoid a victim's home and workplace or forbidding any contact with the victim, including by mail or telephone.

Findings from the study suggest that orders make a difference in safety, fear levels and cost savings. Moreover, urban and rural populations reported significant differences in fear. Half of the women who received protective orders did not experience a violation within the following six months. For the half who did experience violations, the levels of violence and abuse declined significantly compared with the six months before the protective order was issued.

Urban and rural women had similar views of the protective orders' effectiveness. However, rural women found more barriers to getting an order and having it enforced, thus experiencing less relief from fear and abuse. The study also explored the role of stalking in protective order violations and quantified the overall cost to society.

For employers, there is also important information about stalking behavior in this study. In prior research, Logan found that about half of the victims who get protective orders are stalked. Overall, protective orders were less effective for stalking victims than for other victims. Specifically:
  • Women who were stalked by their violent partner before getting a protective order had a strong likelihood of protective order violations.
  • Women who were stalked after the protective order were more afraid of future harm, experienced more distress related to the abuse, and endured more violence and more property damage.
  • Women who were stalked after the protective order felt the order to be less effective compared with those who were not stalked.
  • Stalking after the protective order was associated with violence, suggesting those who stalk are more violent and more resistant to court intervention.
The previous study examined victims with no protective order violations, victims whose protective orders were violated, and victims with violations and stalking. Stalking victims experienced higher distress levels and more property loss, lost more sleep, and took more time off from work, contributing to higher societal costs.

Stalking victims were less likely than other women to report a protective order violation. They said they felt the complaint would not be taken seriously or they feared they did not have enough proof.

So what does that mean for the workplace?  An employer shouldn't assume that just because the workplace is listed on the civil protection order it is "safe." An employer with an employee who have a civil protection order would be wise to work with that employee to utilize workplace protections and accomodations to keep the victim and other employees safe. And this is especially the case where stalking is involved. 

To read the full summary and link to the full study, click here:

For resources to address domestic violence at the workplace, visit