Domestic Violence in the Workplace: An Epidemic

As of September 2014, deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars totaled 7,144. Here at home, quick calculations total domestic violence deaths during the same period with four women dying every day due to domestic violence at 20,440.

That statistic does NOT include men and LGTB deaths due to domestic violence. The numbers suggest a death rate that is almost three times that of two wars, yet domestic violence remains an uncomfortable subject. Domestic violence is a topic that is easy for people to sweep under the rug thinking that it only happens behind closed doors and outside the hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. That thinking is flawed and dangerous. Domestic violence can and will happen in the workplace. More importantly, it is becoming more prevalent every day.

Why?
When a victim leaves an abusive partner or husband, where is the one place the perpetrator can count on finding the victim?

Work!
When a victim leaves an abusive situation, the abuser feels a loss of control and their behavior may heighten into another realm – that of stalking – and many times they will show up at the victim’s work. Sixty-one percent of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current of former intimate partner.1 Even worse, intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.2 Eighty-one percent of women stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also physically assaulted by that partner.3 Conjecture? No, those are the facts.

A quick Google search reveals even more commonality as page after page reveals the tragic stories of the ruined lives and concrete angels. With over one-third of women facing domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, the possibility of dealing with violence in the workplace becomes more probable rather than possible. It is a problem that is not only relevant to women. Two in five gay or bisexual men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

The significant impact of domestic violence in the workplace shows up in many different ways. Among them, compromised safety in the organization, increased threat of violence, increased healthcare costs, employee turnover and recruiting costs, productivity loss and work stoppage due to disruptive incidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence equals $727.8 million, with more than $7.9 million paid workdays lost each year. The devastating economic effect is quite clear.

Employers can’t stop domestic violence from happening in the workplace but they can help by advocating for domestic violence and proactively preparing their Human Resources Department and management teams to deal with it properly. Leadership sets the tone for successful management of the issue. The first step is to understand the gravity of the problem. Leadership sets the tone for success when they are fully supportive and ensure that key people are properly trained and implement a domestic violence in the workplace policy.

If you don’t have a policy in line for your organization, here is how you can get started:
  • Feature a speaker on domestic violence to create awareness.
  • Put up signs in restrooms where victims can turn for help.
  • Make sure your HR teams attend workshops for specific training in domestic violence in the workplace.
  • Be familiar with local community resources.
  • If you suspect an employee of being a victim of domestic violence, do NOT directly confront them. It is important for the individual to self-disclose for her/his safety and well-being. There are a plethora of resources to help you learn how to talk to someone you believe is a victim of domestic violence. Learn before leaping.
  • Create a relationship with a professional organization that can help you with situational assessments as they arise.
  • If you are a victim of or suspect that one of your employees is dealing with domestic violence, immediate assistance is available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline or by calling 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

It is critical to care for the safety and welfare of your employees and it is a legal obligation to do so. MPS Security can help by providing plain-clothes, undercover officers, controlling access to the building, monitoring the grounds and providing 24-hour security patrols in addition to conducting investigations and vulnerability assessments. Please call 1-866-624-8050 or contact us to find out how we can help you create a safe and secure workplace environment.

Michael Julian is the President/CEO of National Business Investigations, Inc. and MPS Security. As a 2nd generation PI and Security Professional with three decades in the private investigative and security industries, Mr. Julian served as President of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, lobbies California legislators on behalf of the private investigation industry and teaches classes on Starting and Building a PI Business, Surveillance, Personal Locates, Executive Protection, and Business and Ethics in both Investigations and Security industries nationally. Mr. Julian created and now teaches ALIVE: 5 Steps to Active Shooter Survival course, throughout the US. He can be reached at [email protected] and please visit www.Investigations-NBI.com or www.Security-MPS.com

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