"Domestic" violence comes to work
December 2, 2008 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Domestic violence comes to work, whether executives realize it or not. Instead of firing employees who are abusers’ targets, some corporations in the US and elsewhere have instituted formal policies and programs to mitigate the impact of domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), on workplaces.

Initiatives aim to inform employees about what constitutes domestic violence and let them feel safe about disclosing abuse (from the previous link, a poster addressing male victims [pdf]; poster highlighting controlling aspects of abuse [6 Mb pdf and trigger warning]), relieve pressure on co-workers to surreptitiously cover for lost productivity by abusers as well as abusees, and provide relocations, safety measures, and support. Previously (1, 2, 3, 4).

Statistics and General Information
National Domestic Violence Hotline (US)
Workplace statistics from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV)
American Bar Association statistics on IPV generally, including differentiations by demographic group
Domestic Violence Factoids from the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA)
National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV, Government of Canada site) has links, mainly Canadian and American, for different demographic groups

Male Victims
NCFV: Intimate Partner Abuse Against Men
Aardvark: Abused Men

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project: Survivor Stories
YouthResource: Myths and Facts: Lesbian Battering
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Map of Domestic Violence Laws in the US as of 02/2005

Gender Symmetry in Domestic Violence?
USDOJ: Does Intimate Partner Violence Show Gender Symmetry?
Richard J. Gelles, Domestic Violence: Not An Even Playing Field
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (14 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is a good introduction to the issue of IPV in the workplace. Massachusetts, like a number of other states, has taken an aggressive approach to this in its own state government offices, which collectively constitute the largest employer in the commonwealth. Furthermore, many large employers implicitly or explicitly match these orders, which have led to a large coalition of groups that have taken affirmative steps towards stopping the problem. You can see Deval Patrick's executive order which explains how to deal with these issues here.

Disclosure: I worked in some capacity for the office of legal counsel when that EO was drafted and think it's phenomenal and cannot comment any more on it.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:40 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

She called him at work ten minutes ago and said that she has a gun, that he won't live until tomorrow, and that she knows where to find him. He tells you that she has a history of being violent, throwing things at him and trying to stab him with a knife. Tony doesn't' know what to do.

Question: Is there a known threat of violence in Tony's workplace?

Answer: Yes, there is a high threat of physical violence in Tony's workplace. Immediate action must be taken. See Workplace Security and Safety Procedures below for ideas on what actions are needed.
Everything that is wrong with corporate HR is summed up in this Q&A, thanks!
posted by geoff. at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

Good post, cybercoitus interruptus, I will have to bookmark most links for later.

Just wanted to make a point: with the economy tanking, expect domestic violence to be on the rise - many states are already reporting a surge. One of my clients is a counseling center and they are seeing an uptick; others in the helping profession report the same. Many short-sighted employers don't think that violence at home is their concern. Wrong. Even if it doesn't manifest itself in the workplace via an actual incident, the related lost productivity can be substantial. People aren't robots - they bring and live their problems at work, too.

There's a good blog that I follow on this topic: Domestic Violence in the Workplace.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:31 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Really, the best thing you can do for a woman who is suffering from domsetic abuse is have her also worry that she may lose her job if she takes out a restraining order against her abusive partner.

Excuse me. I mean that's the best thing you can do if you're FUCKING SATAN.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:02 PM on December 2, 2008 [9 favorites]

Or perhaps even if you are yourself Satan.
posted by DU at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

But hey, blaming the victim is a game that works in so many fields- rape, immigration, the poor... Because we all know when something bad happens to US, it's because the world is unjust, but when it happens to other people, it's because they asked for it.

Snark aside, great post.
posted by yeloson at 12:17 PM on December 2, 2008

At my former employer, they installed electronic locks and gave everyone passcards after an employee received a threat from an ex. A lot of people were upset because they frequently had to go from floor to floor and it was a big hassle if you forgot your card.

Where I work now, we've had the same kind of passcard system since I started, but there's much more frequent traffic through the doors, and I've never seen anyone stopped and questioned if they belong here. I don't think passcards prevent anyone who has an IQ above 50 from entering a building during business hours.
posted by desjardins at 12:32 PM on December 2, 2008

posted by rusty at 1:42 PM on December 2, 2008

The frustrating thing for me is that the things that CAN be done to deal with domestic abuse or stalking seem so mild and ineffective. Moving to new addresses, changing phone numbers, even getting injunctions seem like just running far enough away for the abuser to get his dander up. Really, the victims seem hobbled by legal and societal limitations the abusers don't have to follow.

Unfortunately I don't have an answer. One can fantasize about some huge legbreakers intimidating an abuser and telling them not to come around any more, but that isn't even close to being practical in real life.
posted by happyroach at 1:59 PM on December 2, 2008

How interesting that this particular topic should be brought up today.

Here's yet another resource, SafeNest.
posted by ilsa at 2:11 PM on December 2, 2008

Interesting. Only last week, Stratfor had a piece called Workplace Violence: Myths and Mitigation as part of their ongoing series of free intelligence reports. This series normally deals with things like the Mumbai attacks, the Georgia/Russia conflict, Iraq, that sort of thing, but I think this particular report was the one I have forwarded to the most people.

Thanks for a great post.
posted by gemmy at 3:47 PM on December 2, 2008

Not quite as horrible or sensational as what's being discussed here, but there is also the simple issue of going to work after being physically assaulted.

Back in the mid 1990's I was involved with a woman who was emotionally and physically abusive to me. Alcohol would precipitate her violence. One night on my birthday she caught me with a wicked right cross. I didn't fight back. One of the neighbors must have heard something, as the cops arrived shortly. Seeing as how my left eye was rapidly swelling, and she had no mark, she went to jail.

Two days later I went to work in the pharmacy. Most pharmacies these days have large glass windows that run the length of the pharmacy, so the staff is visible, at least from the waist up. It was bad enough having a black eye, as I realized that everyone could see it. Everyone must have formed some tentative conclusion, and it pained me to think many people must have thought that I had been in a fight, and so was probably a violent person.

But one lady really took it to the next level. She was the widow of a wealthy man with a well known name here in Seattle. A totally self-centered, shrewish old bitch.

I remember she addressed one of my co-workers, and not me. "What happened to him?" spoken loudly enough so I could easily hear it too. As if I was an animal in a zoo, on display behind glass for her edification and amusement.

The pain of the right cross was of short duration. But the humiliation of that moment at work is probably something I'll retain for the rest of my life...

Thankfully my abuser has been out of my life since 1996.

Despite the police having taken a Polaroid photo of my swelling eye, my abuser got herself a public defender, plead not guilty, and got off scot-free...

Alcohol is an extremely dangerous drug.
posted by Tube at 4:41 PM on December 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

I'm ashamed of how ignorant I am about this issue. Thank you for an excellent and informative post.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:41 AM on December 3, 2008

Related AskMetafilter question.

On a different note, somebody in another online forum has asserted of that Gelles essay, "Not An Even Playing Field," that it is outdated and no longer reflects his views. I emailed him a couple of days ago to ask. For the record, he replied, "I stand by what I wrote in 'Not An Even Playing Field'."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:55 PM on December 3, 2008

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