How to Respond When Domestic Violence Affects Faculty & Staff

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 11 August 2016 |

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ca blog Each year your campus offers training to students that addresses topics required by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

The thing is, students aren’t the only ones that sexual violence affects. Faculty and staff are also at risk. In fact, it’s more important than ever to talk about how sexual violence affects the workplace.

And the place we are going to start today is with domestic violence.

What is the Definition of Domestic Violence?

To start, you need to know the definition of domestic violence. It’s actually very broad and applies to many different situations. Plus, each state has its own definition of domestic violence.

However, generally, domestic violence (which sometimes includes dating violence and is also referred to as intimate partner violence) is a pattern of abusive behavior used by a current or former partner/spouse/household member to maintain control over the other.

It can be physical, psychological or sexual, and it can also include threats of physical or sexual violence. Additionally, it can occur between partners of any gender and does not require sexual intimacy.

How Prevalent is Domestic Violence at Work?

Unfortunately, domestic violence at work is not a rare occurrence. As you can see from these statistics, it affects the lives of many people:

  • Nearly 33 percent of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner.
  • From 1997-2009, 358 people in the United States were killed by an intimate partner or family member while on the job.
  • 21 percent of workers have been the victims of intimate partner violence
  • 25 percent of larger corporations have employees who have reported at least one incident of domestic violence within the last year.

What are the Costs?

Additionally, domestic violence in the workplace has a very negative affect on productivity:

  • difficulty concentrating on work tasks and performing job duties
  • showing up late to work
  • receiving harassing phone calls and/or texts
  • fear of losing their jobs due to domestic violence
  • scared that other people will find out

Productivity isn’t the only cost. There are also significant monetary costs associated with domestic violence:

  • The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million, with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost each year.
  • In one case, a wrongful death action against an employer who failed to respond to an employee’s risk of domestic violence on the job cost the employer $850,000.
  • The costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services, much of which is paid for by the employer.
  • Employers are aware of this economic burden: 44 percent of executives surveyed say that domestic violence increases their health care costs.

What Can You Do?

It’s important that your campus (as an employer) recognizes that you must respond to and address domestic violence at work. And since you are already doing a lot to combat the effects of domestic violence when it comes to students, it shouldn’t be hard to apply many of those same tactics to your faculty and staff.

  • Offer online training that educates faculty and staff on how to recognize domestic violence and practice safe bystander intervention if needed.
  • Make sure faculty and staff have access to employees assistance programs or community resources that help domestic violence victims.
  • Restrict the abuser’s access to your campus and hand out their information to campus security so that they can keep an eye out for them.
  • Keep the victim safe by extending additional services to them such as an escort to their vehicle, flexible work hours and/or a new work phone number.

Conclusion

Domestic violence is a serious issue that follows victims outside of the home and into the workplace. So make sure your campus offers support to faculty and staff who need it.

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