Domestic violence doesn’t stay home when its victims go to work. It can follow them, resulting in violence in the workplace. Or it can spill over into the workplace when a woman is harassed by threatening phone calls, absent because of injuries or less productive from extreme stress. With nearly one-third of American women reporting being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, it is a certainty that in any mid-to-large sized company, domestic violence is affecting employees. It is crucial that domestic abuse be seen as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem by the community at large and by business leaders.
Domestic violence affects the workplace and economy in many ways:
- Each year, domestic violence costs the US approximately $1.8 billion in lost productivity.
- 74% of employed domestic violence victims were harassed by their abusive partner while at work.
- 71% of Employee Assistance Program providers surveyed have dealt with an employee being stalked at workby a current of former partner.
Domestic violence often becomes workplace violence. The lethality of domestic violence often increases at times when the batterer believes that the victim has left the relationship. Once a woman attempts to leave an abusive partner, the workplace can become the only place the assailant can locate and harm her.
Businesses, churches, and community organizations can take a proactive approach to supporting survivors of domestic violence by:
- Educating employees about domestic violence and how to access help
- Offering resources through a confidential employee assistance program
- Developing an organizational domestic violence policy, including leave policies and security measures
- Collaborating with local domestic violence organizations and law enforcement agencies for education and service referrals.
It is important for our entire community to work together to help victims of domestic violence and promote safe workplaces and safe neighborhoods, because domestic violence impacts all of us.