Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Are We Missing (or Why Do We Miss It?)

Perhaps you've seen the reports about the study from the University of Pennsyvania that found about 80 percent of female victims of intimate partner violence are treated in U.S. hospitals, but most are not identified as abuse victims.

The study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found of the women treated in hospital emergency rooms, 72 percent are not identified as abuse victims, and of those who are identified, few are offered adequate support.

It is interesting because many hospitals have mandated protocols regarding domestic violence - it is also interesting because (quoting the study here) "Women who had filed a police complaint the day of treatment, had been taken to the hospital by police, had self-disclosed domestic assault, or had mental health and substance abuse issues were more likely to be identified as victims of domestic violence."

Why is that interesting to me?  Because ER staff may do what many of us tend to do..."assume" what a victim of domestic violence looks like or what they might be like.....not realizing a victim of domestic violence could really be anyone who walks into the ER.

Just like a victim could be anyone walking through our workplaces.

I remember doing a training for managers at one of our CAEPV member companies and talking about some of the potential signs a person might be a victim of domestic violence -- but then noting "Or -- the person may not show ANY of these signs....your overachieving greatest worker may be suffering from domestic violence at home."

A manager looked at me, sighed, and said (rather exasperated) "Then how am I supposed to know WHO is my victim of domestic violence?"

I said "You aren't." 

I explained that a manager wants to make sure everyone who works for him/her gets the resources and information about domestic violence to all employees.  Because you just never know who may be a victim.

So - why does the ER "miss" domestic violence?  Why does the workplace miss it?

I think we "miss it" because we "want to find our victim".....we want to think we "know" what a person who commits domestic violence looks like...or what a person who lives through domestic violence looks like.

But we don't.

So I think I understand why (protocols aside), emergency room staff struggle just like we all do.  We miss it because we think "it can't be that person." (Even if we don't consciously think it.)

It is a good lesson to learn - by assuming who is NOT a victim, we may not give information, or ask a question that may save a life.  Not only at a hospital, or a doctor's office....but at a workplace, a school, a community of faith, a family....anywhere.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Domestic Violence Costs Australia $13 Billion A Year

So -- what does domestic violence cost?

A new national report from Australia has put a figure on the economic cost of domestic violence and has found abusive relationships have a significant impact on a woman's financial security in that country.

Researchers, including Dr. Rachelle Braaf from the University of New South Wales, interviewed both victims of violence and service providers. Dr. Braaf says domestic abuse costs the Australian economy more than $13 billion a year.

"It is a huge cost to the Australian economy - not only in responding directly to domestic violence, but also to things like the impact on work and productivity, impact on the healthcare system, impact on the legal system and so on," she said.

The study also found domestic violence has a significant impact on a woman's financial security, both during and after the relationship. It found the decision to stay or leave an abusive relationship is, for many women, affected by financial factors.

The research shows money issues are usually either the trigger or the obstacle to leaving, with many women finding men in control of their finances or impeding their ability to work. Financial difficulties also impact on a woman's recovery from abuse, with ongoing legal issues, costly child care and dealing with debts incurred by their partners.

"What we were trying to do was to investigate whether financial issues were playing a bigger role than previously suspected in terms of women's safety and their ability to recover from the abuse, and the research has definitely shown that that is the case," Dr. Braaf said.

"Primarily we wanted people to understand that there is that strong link between domestic violence and women's financial outcomes."

The report recommends governments and financial institutions help fund special products such as low-interest loans for victims of domestic violence and that employers establish more supportive workplace arrangements.

Not only does this study show that domestic violence is not just a "private matter" impacting only the lives of those involved, but it shows the importance of programs like those within workplaces of CAEPV member companies.

It also shows the importance of programs like the Allstate Foundation's financial literacy program (I really encourage you to visit this site -- you'll be amazed at the curriculum they provide...and inspired by the videos!)  The Allstate Foundation supports survivors through resources targeted to build financial independence  -- and educates the public on how hard it is for people to leave an abusive relationship without economic resources.

For more information on the costs of domestic violence in terms of the workplace, productivity, healthcare, etc, visit the FACTS AND STATS section of the CAEPV website.

While I would never measure the cost of domestic violence in terms of dollars alone...it is important for us to understand that whether we know it or not, it impacts us all.  Perhaps seeing it in terms of dollars and cents will make it more real for some.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


The Allstate Foundation is proud of the passion that Allstate employees and agents have for serving their communities. Now you can help support it, too.

Once again one of Allstate’s YouTube videos highlighting the Foundation’s work to end domestic violence is competing for an award. The video features the important work that an Allstate Agent and domestic violence advocate are doing to build the financial empowerment of domestic violence survivors. Help this video secure a spot in the top ten for the second year in a row.

Click here to view and vote for their video.

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship is where leading corporate citizens go to stay ahead of the curve – and The Allstate Foundation is honored that their video is being showcased in their contest. Public voting will narrow down the videos candidates to the top ten between now and March 10. Then, public voting closes and Boston College membership will select the winner.

The Allstate Foundation needs your help to get into the top ten! They ask that you encourage your networks to vote too at www.bcccc.net/index.cfm?pageId=2244