October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this month, Safe Nest looks for ways to inform the community about domestic violence and how it affects everyone, even those who are not direct victims. Traditionally, businesses have not addressed domestic violence as a corporate issue; however, with one in three women experiencing domestic violence in their lives, it does in fact affect every company in Nevada.
Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of assaults and coercive behaviors including physical, sexual and psychological, as well as economic coercion that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.” In the workplace, victims may be harassed by their partners through excessive and/or threatening phone calls and unexpected visits. Perpetrators may also cause a hostile work environment by physically threatening the victims and other employees. According a National Safe Workplace Institute survey, 94 percent of corporate security directors surveyed rank domestic violence as a high-level security problem at their companies.
Apart from safety, domestic violence also affects a company’s productivity and costs. American employees miss 175,000 days per year of paid work due to domestic violence. This absenteeism may be the result of abusers sabotaging victims’ ability to get to work. It also includes hospitalization or doctors’ appointments for injury, as well as court appearances for both victims and perpetrators. According to the Department of Justice, these factors cost businesses over $31 billion every year.
What can a company do when domestic violence comes to the workplace? First, be prepared. Training your human resources department and supervisors about domestic violence helps create a victim-sensitive workplace and gives practical solutions, including warning signs, reasonable accommodations, how to develop policies and procedures, safety planning and legal issues. Safe Nest provides free training about domestic violence in the workplace for any business in Clark County.
A business can also provide educational material, such as posters, brochures and referral information to help victims access services they may need when they feel it is safe to do so. Let them know the company is supportive of them and cares about their situation. Develop a sensitive workplace by not tolerating jokes about domestic violence.
Approach suspected victims with care and concern. Here are some practical tips.
Warning signs may include: unexplained bruises or odd excuses for bruises; lack of concentration; change in job performance or attitude; increased or unexplained absences; harassing phone calls or disruptive visits by partner or spouse.
If you suspect domestic abuse: Gently let the employee know that you have observed possible signs of domestic violence. Expressing your concern for his or her well-being and making supportive statements such as, “No one deserves to be hit by someone else” are appropriate ways to begin addressing the issue. Remember not to discount your employee’s feelings of love and hope for change. If an employee chooses not to disclose, referral to your Human Resources department for help or to Safe Nest’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline can be the most respectful and helpful information you can convey to the victim.
When an employee discloses abuse – express concern and support, assure the employee the information will be kept confidential, empower the employee by giving appropriate referrals and offer to help with any work issues or give access to resources with the company if the employee wishes.
Domestic violence can and does affect your business. Safe Nest is committed to helping the business community in Southern Nevada address domestic violence through training and advocacy. Safe Nest has 25 years of experience in providing domestic violence services to victims, perpetrators and their children. Safe Nest operates the only 24-hour emergency shelters in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas with confidential locations for the safety of battered women and children. In addition to emergency shelters, Safe Nest also provides counseling, advocacy and other needed services for individuals and families experiencing domestic violence.
Access to 24-hour assistance is available through the Domestic Violence Hotline at 702-646-4981.
To schedule free training for your company about domestic violence in the workplace, call 702-877-0133, ext. 238.
Safe Nest Counseling Offices
Las Vegas: 2915 W. Charleston Blvd, Suite 12
Laughlin: 3650 S. Pointe Circle, Suite 205
Mesquite: 10 W. Mesquite Blvd., Suite 108