Can Domestic Violence Impact Your Business?

Can Domestic Violence Impact Your Business?

21:56 27 September in Workplace Violence

Did you know that 21% of full-time employed adults report being the victim of domestic violence? Interestingly, 64% of those same adults has stated their work performance suffered as a result of domestic abuse. Our society has clearly shifted the paradigm through which we view the issue of domestic violence, and how we deal with this issue in the workplace.

On March 8, 2013, President Obama signed into law the expanded version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWRA) of 1994.   Originally enacted in 1994, the act provided support for organizations that serve victims of domestic violence, and now extends protection to all victims no matter race, legal status or sexual orientation.  Over the past 20 years, the development of the understanding of domestic violence as a class of crime was made possible by the women’s movement and strengthened by legislation such as the VAWRA.

So how does the issue of domestic violence impact your business, and what should you do about it?  To answer these questions we should look first to the makeup of today’s workforce.  According to the Department of Labor, 47% of the US workforce are women.  In professional roles, women make up the majority, a full 57% of the workforce.  Now consider that 21% of full-time employed adults report being the victim of domestic abuse with 64% of them saying their work performance suffered as a result.  Add to that the cost of lost productivity with approximately $7.9 million paid workdays lost to domestic abuse annually.  The cost to business is staggering.   Statistically, nearly one in five employees currently or have been the victim of domestic abuse. That affects productivity – and productivity drops to your bottom line.

Indicators of Domestic Violence

Effectively addressing the issue of domestic violence in the workplace begins with awareness.  Some possible indicators of the existence of domestic violence are:

    • Arriving to work late or early
    • Unplanned or increased use of time off
    • Decreased productivity
    • Difficulty in concentrating
    • Difficulty in making decisions
    • Repeated discussions of marital life or personal problems
    • Vague or non-specific medical complaints
    • Sleeping or eating disorders
    • Signs of fear or depression
    • Fatigue
    • Intense startle reactions
    • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
    • Wearing long sleeves or jackets in warm weather
    • Unusual use of makeup


Take Action

  1.  Victims of domestic abuse frequently deny their situations when confronted.
  2. As a manager, you should carefully communicate your concern for the employee and make your Employee Assistance Program available to them.  Be clear that your role is to help and not to judge.
  3. If the employee refuses EAP assistance you, as a manager, can contact your EAP representative and communicate your concern.
  4. Always engage your Human Resource professional.
  5. If there is concern of violence in the workplace, do not hesitate to involve your security personnel.
  6. Be respectful of your employee’s privacy and work to maintain your role as a manager and not counselor.


Domestic Violence is Volatile

Always remember that you have an obligation to provide a safe workplace.  Unresolved domestic violence can create a hazard to other workers.  Consider that 33% of women killed in the workplace die at the hands of a former intimate partner and on average in cases where a domestic partner comes to the workplace to confront a lover with a weapon, three to five people die, including the attacker.  As a manager, you must recognize indicators of domestic violence, you must act to assist the employee and you must ensure you provide a safe workplace.



Security Content by: Saundra Redmond
Senior Human Resource Professional




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