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Interventions for Leaving a Violent Relationship
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Section 26
Domestic Violence in the Workplace

CEU Question 26 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Domestic Violence
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs


Homicide is the #1 leading cause of death for women on the job, and 20% of those were murdered by their partner at the workplace. - Bureau of Labor Statistics 1993Homicide  Violent Relationship  mft CEU course

"A woman seated behind her computer in a downtown office building was shot to death Tuesday morning by her estranged husband, who then turned the gun on himself. Jennifer Smith, 32, died within minutes. Three hours earlier, Jennifer had reported to police that her husband had violated a protection from abuse order for the second time in 10 days. Police reported that John Smith had purchased the bullets just moments prior at a store located down the street from Jennifer's workplace."

The scenario above is fictional, but unfortunately real news reports just like it play each year in the US. 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 in other ways: threatening phone calls, stalking, absences because of injuries or a decrease in productivity from extreme stress. Domestic violence in the workplace includes all types of behavior that affect a person's ability to perform a job. With nearly one-third of women reporting physical abuse by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, it is a virtual certainty that in any company, domestic violence will impact its employees.

Domestic violence costs employers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in increased health care costs. Not only are productivity, absenteeism and health care costs concerns of employers, but so is workplace safety. It is crucial that domestic violence be seen as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem like thousands of other workplace health and safety issues that effect a business and its bottom line. Increasingly, employers across the U.S. are addressing domestic violence by implementing programs and policies that respond to and help prevent abuse, treating it as a preventable health problem.

The effects that domestic violence has on each individual employee should also be a concern employers understand. If employees who are abused have ongoing performance problems and are not able to get help, they may lose their job as a result of the abuse. This means losing resources victims need to escape from the abuse, as well as the loss of a valuable employee.

Business, out of self-interest, should respond to domestic violence, and do so in a businesslike way. By working to mitigate the economic, legal, and productivity risks related to domestic violence, a business will also create a workplace that is safer for victims, and at the same time, will send a powerful message to society that responding to domestic violence is "good business".

Domestic violence is an important business issue that cannot be ignored. The workplace is where many women facing domestic violence spend the majority of their day. It's an ideal place for them to get help and support. Domestic abuse effects employee health and well-being, productivity, benefits costs, and risk to the employer. When employers address domestic violence in the workplace, they have the power to save money - and save lives.

According to the American Institute on Domestic Violence, it is estimated that domestic violence costs employers between $3-5 billion every year. Moreover, employers lose another $100 million in lost wages, paid sick leave, and absenteeism linked to domestic violence.

For additional information, questions, or copies of sample policies, contact KCSDV. Material adapted with permission from the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Creating a "Domestic Violence in the Workplace" Policy
1. Define partner violence. CAEPV defines partner violence as abusive behavior occurring between two people in an intimate relationship.
2. Determine existing policies and guidelines that could be applied to this policy. Then determine how they could be modified to address partner violence.
3. Determine what new policies must be developed.
4. Employees may need time off to seek protection, go to court, look for new housing, or enter counseling for abuse (for victim and abusers), or for other reasons related to partner violence. Define policy for flexible work hours, short-term leaves of absence, and extended leaves of absence.
5. Consider what special accommodations you may be able to make for victims of partner violence e.g., relocation help.
6. Determine how far you as the employer can go in aiding an employee who is abused or an abuser, while maintaining the integrity of the workplace and safety of all employees.
7. Include specific procedures for responding to situations that occur in the workplace (an employee should..., coworker of a person who is a victim or abuser should..., the manager or supervisor should..., Human Resources should..., Security should...).
8. Communicate your policy clearly to all employees. Establish a specific reporting protocol so that employees at every level know who to report to and under what circumstances information is to be reported.
9. Job programs and benefits available to other employees should not be denied to employees based solely on partner violence related problems. By the same token, those employees should have set performance expectations, just as all employees do.
- Barnett, Sandy, Domestic Violence in the Workplace, KCSDV: Topeka, 2003.

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Personal Reflection Exercise #12
The preceding section contained information about domestic violence in the workplace. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 26
IWhat powers do employers have when they address domestic violence in the workplace? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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