October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What does that mean for employers? There are things that employers can do to help recognize and support employees who may be victims of domestic violence.
You may think that domestic violence doesn’t affect you, but when nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence, chances are it is affecting someone you know. If you think it doesn’t have anything to do with your workplace, when victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year, or that between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace as a result of intimate partner violence, than you see that domestic violence affects us all.
According to the Center for Disease Control, domestic violence affects millions of Americans; women and men, gay, straight, old and young. Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence, as it is sometimes known, is a worldwide epidemic. Although it is a problem that is seen as largely a problem in the home, there are things as an employer that you can do to help.
The first thing you should do is create a policy. Having a policy in place can help guide you if a situation should arise.
If you suspect that an employee is the victim of domestic violence, what should you do? Here are some helpful tips:
- Make sure you are getting facts, not rumors or gossip. Basing assumptions on unfounded rumor is not helpful to you or the possible victim.
- Speak to the employee privately. Don’t accuse, don’t pressure and don’t assume. There is an excellent video on how to talk to an employee whom you suspect is a victim here.
- Convey the message “You do not deserve this violence”.
- Provide a list of community-based services.
- Address any immediate safety concerns for your employees and the workplace. Consult the victim, your security personnel, legal counsel, and/or law enforcement if necessary.
- Let the victim know that their issues will be considered confidential, and kept as private as possible.
It is possible to create a culture where violence is not tolerated, and all individuals have the right to live free of fear. We are all responsible for the creation and propagation of this culture, and the workplace is as good a place as any to start. If you need help with policies, or assistance in dealing with a possible victim of perpetrator of domestic violence, please contact AmeriSource HR. We are here to help.