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  • Writer's pictureFitPros Workplace Wellbeing

Why Workplaces Should Respond to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is when a person intentionally inflicts violence, threatens, forces, intimidates or manipulates, a spouse, partner, or family member. Domestic violence is often perceived to happen, behind the closed doors of low income homes. However, statistics show, anyone can experience domestic violence regardless of their; class, age, ethnicity, race, sexuality, religion, or disability and it can happen anywhere… including the workplace!

44% of U.S. working adults, say they have experienced the effects of domestic violence in the workplace.

50% of survivors, say they were stalked and harassed by their abuser while at work.

96% of employed domestic violence survivors, have experienced issues at work due to their experienced abuse.

8 million days of paid work are lost yearly, as a result of intimate partner violence crimes.

70% of workplaces in the U.S. do not have formal policies that address workplace violence.

Domestic violence can severely impact a workplace in the following ways:

1. Productivity and a victims attendance can severely drop after they have been attacked

2. Other employee’s safety in the workplace can be compromised.

Workplace attacks are never completely avoidable, because there is often a possibility that the offender is a fellow employee of the victim, or a close personal connection whom knows where they work. However, there are explicit steps companies can take to protect their employees, and in turn; reduce absenteeism, turnover rates, healthcare costs, and legal risks. Here are two compelling reasons why companies should invest in and put Domestic Violence policies in place.

1) Safety

When a survivor decides to take action (as they should) and report a domestic violence situation, their workplace is commonly the easiest place for an abuser to find, harass, threaten, or harm them. In this case, domestic violence can now be considered as much of a threat to the employer and fellow employees, as it is to the victim. Therefore, when domestic violence follows a survivor to work, it becomes a workplace issue.

It is no secret that many workplaces will not implement Domestic Violence policies until there is a prevalent issue at hand. As one can guess, ‘after the fact action’ is often times too late. Additionally, not having a preventative policy in place, leaves a company vulnerable and says to employees that their company is not prioritizing their safety. Additionally, limited dialogue and preventive action around domestic violence can leave victimized employees hesitant and scared to disclose their domestic violence situation to others. This barrier between the survivor, and those in a position to provide valuable support and assistance, is unacceptable. It is important for employers to recognize that the workplace may be the only place a survivor can learn about, and access resources such as; social services, shelters or counseling safely. Therefore, creating a “safe place” for your victimized employees is crucial.

2) Cost

Domestic violence survivors, may have physical injuries that cause them embarrassment and pain. These issues can cause them to not show up for work, and this absenteeism can be very costly to your company. Often times, when a survivor does opt to go to work, they arrive late or leave early, because their abuser has kept them up all night, threatened their childcare and/or inhibited their transportation plans. Survivors more often than not, suffer from anxiety and embarrassment, which in turn affects their productivity. Additionally, a survivor’s co-workers can frequently be collateral damage. Abusive phone calls or office visits from a perpetuator, make it very hard for a workplace community to feel safe and concentrate. Lastly, frequently the workload of the abused, falls on the shoulders of their coworkers, which can cause hostility and create burn out.

Over time, domestic violence issues create low morale issues and high turnover rates. In dollars, the cost of abuse is extreme. The United States loses $8.3 billion a year, ($5.8 billion in medical costs and $2.5 billion in decreased productivity) due to domestic violence. These expenses, are seemingly avoidable with the simple implementation of domestic violence policies.

Employees spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and therefore we turn to you as their employers to identify domestic violence tellers and take action. However, FitPros does realize, domestic violence victims can be hard to identify due to the private and introverted nature many of them have after an attack. FitPros suggests companies have their C-Suite executives get ahead of the crime by; promoting, raising awareness and implementing a prevention plan around domestic violence, that is introduced to all new hires and is consistently discussed throughout the calendar year. Educating your employees on the effects and warning signs of domestic violence, can help you to build an army that fights the fight against domestic violence. Additionally, incorporating and addressing issues into workplace wellness activities such as, FitPros onsite offerings like our Self Defense Classes or one of our Health Talks, is also an effective way to teach your employees compassion for their fellow co-workers or how to be an effective communicator around such a stigmatized issue. The possibilities are endless, FitPros only asks that you work with us to break the stigma and silence that surrounds such a prevalent issue in today' society.

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