Uncovering the Link between Domestic Violence and the Workplace

Uncovering the Link between Domestic Violence and the Workplace

November 5, 2019

Unfortunately, even in 2019 the threat of violence against women and men by an intimate partner continues to increase and be a critical issue in our society. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million men and women in one year.” Every minute you are in a meeting, re-heating your lunch, or waiting in line for your coffee, approximately 20 men and women are being abused by their intimate partner.

In light of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jo Ann Ugolini, Senior Director for Threat and Violence Risk Management at Hillard Heintze, discussed the importance of companies incorporating domestic violence awareness and management into workplace violence prevention programs with the LiveSafe Prevention Podcast.

Domestic violence should no longer be considered just a “personal” or “home” issue. As stated by former intelligence officer and author Dan Verton, “I think a lot of people, including Human Resources and security professionals, think of domestic violence and workplace violence as two distinct issues or threats. But the data tells a different story and how these two risks are closely linked.” In order to uncover the link between domestic violence and workplace violence prevention, it’s first important to realize the magnitude of domestic violence in the United States today.

Understanding the Current State of Domestic Violence
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence, may involve physical, emotional, cyber, or financial abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner” in the United States. NCADV publicizes the following statistics related to Domestic Violence in the United States:

  • 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.
  • 60.8% of female stalking victims and 43.5% of men reporting being stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.

Domestic violence in the United States is a serious threat that both women and men face. However, the impact of domestic violence against men and women is not limited to the victim’s personal life.

Connecting Domestic Violence to the Workplace

Most people think of violence by an intimate partner as an issue that is unrelated to the workplace. However, the data shows that there are real and costly impacts to business as well. As Ugolini shared, a victim of violence by an intimate partner may show decreases in productivity at work, and lead to decreases in the productivity of other people in the same environment.”

NCADV released the following economic impact statistics about domestic violence and the workplace:

  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year.
  • Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.
  • 40% of women killed in the workplace were slain by a relative or domestic partner.

Domestic violence is no longer a personal issue only; companies now have a need to take a more active role in monitoring and intervening in cases of employee domestic violence. Ugolini states that “really, the most important thing that I think organizations should keep in mind is their duty to provide a safe work environment, period.” According to Ugolini, “the time when the victim is most at risk is when they’re trying to leave the situation. The only place the abuser knows where they’re going to be, at particular times, is the workplace.”

If a victim of domestic violence is most vulnerable at work, and companies have a duty to provide a safe work environment, then companies need to prioritize incorporating domestic violence prevention and training at the workplace.

Taking Action to Reduce the Risk of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

It is important for companies to have official processes on how to handle domestic violence concerns at work, from the initial suspicion and reporting to intervention and response, to create a culture of trust for all parties involved. Often times, victims of domestic abuse are hesitant to report the abuse they are experiencing or threats they are facing. As Ugolini states, “one of the most significant barriers to reporting has to do with the victim’s reluctance to come forward or even acknowledge how serious the threat is.” This underlines the importance of companies taking a more active and vocal role in reducing the threat of domestic violence and workplace violence to their employees.

According to Ugolini, “the most important things that organizations can do to overcome this reluctance is really to develop a robust and transparent prevention program, so that they openly discuss concerning behaviors and situations. And also train the employees on their role in prevention, so that it really becomes a part of the culture.” However, only 43% of organizations have addressed domestic violence as part of their workplace violence prevention program in recent years.

Two key points to consider in light of the opportunity that companies have to take action to reduce the risk of domestic violence and violence in their workplace:

  • Educate your workforce on possible early warning signs of domestic or workplace violence, such as absenteeism, physical injuries, stalking, harassing phone calls, etc. and who they should report to within the company with any suspicions of possible domestic violence against co-workers.
  • Empower your workforce to report their concerns of a fellow employee who may be facing violence by or threats from an intimate partner. Create a trusting and safe space to discuss and report serious matters such as domestic abuse or workplace violence and harassment so victims know they will be taken seriously and protected when they report.

Using LiveSafe to Prevent Domestic Violence and Other Safety and Security Risks

LiveSafe seeks to prevent tragedies like domestic violence and workplace violence from occurring by providing companies and communities with a reliable mobile risk intelligence and two-way safety communications platform. The LiveSafe Mobile App enables employees or community members to quickly submit tips and suspicious activity concerns directly to security, so that security personnel can respond promptly and appropriately.

LiveSafe can be used to report concerns of possible domestic violence and workplace violence. A user can even choose to report these concerns anonymously. However, this doesn’t prevent a security team from connecting with the person who reported the concern to gather additional information through real-time, two-way chat, all while remaining anonymous.

As our lives become more integrated with our jobs, and co-workers become friends, it’s important that we keep an eye out for early warning signs of serious risks members of our community may be facing, from domestic abuse and workplace violence to suicide and theft. The LiveSafe Mobile application makes reporting safety and security tips or suspicious activity concerns easy; it automatically connects the information to the right people at the right time so they can respond and mitigate the threat.

LiveSafe can help your organization and community stop reacting to domestic violence, workplace violence, and other safety and security threats, and start preventing them.

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