October 26, 2020

Domestic Violence in the Organization – The Problem

Written by Robert D. Sollars

October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I was totally remiss in not posting this sooner.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe domestic violence (DV) is a serious problem or not because it is a serious problem for victims and the businesses they work for. The reason?  48% of all workplace violence (WPV) incidents begin because of it. Unwittingly the entire staff, not to mention human resources and security, is affected by it.

Unfortunately, I know of a few women who have been visited by DV. Some were emotional, sexual, and others were physical. This is a personal issue for me for that exact reason. The reasoning behind these posts during Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to show how we as security and hopefully any human resources professionals as well as how we can assist any victims. For friends it is bad enough, but for family members…

The women that I know that have been visited by this insidious disease of DV start with my mother. Then onto my 2nd wife with her 1st husband, more than a few friends from Kansas City & Phoenix (approx. a dozen), and my best friend at this moment, as well as her girlfriend. It has been in the forms of violent assault, rapes & sexual assaults, verbal & emotional abuse, and repeated physical abuse…for more than 55 years, which I knew something was wrong…just not what. One of the reasons why I’m so adamant against domestic Violence.

Back into security… It becomes significant for all organizations, and all of us, because DV creeps into the organization and creates chaos, havoc, & destruction on everyone, whether they witness it or just know someone affected by being psychologically traumatized, threatened, injured, or murdered by the perpetrator.

DV produces pandemonium amongst everyone involved, both inside the organization along with personal lives, think gunshots during an active shooter, which can easily evolve from DV, and the trauma it brings inside of a business or school, causing trauma for decades. If the company is made aware of the potential, and victimization of an employee, and does nothing to combat it before it enters the facility, multi-tenant or not, then they can be held liable for the injuries, including death, not just legally, but morally and ethically as well.

A DV fatality doesn’t necessarily have to have occurred for it to be injurious. Especially if you tally the emotional trauma and psychological damage done to individuals. Usually, you will never know who is mentally fragile until an incident occurs and then it’s too late to prevent it, and the ensuing litigation…

A couple of statistics that may bring home DV to anyone who may not have been visited by its sinister effects;

  • * 43% of all WPV incidents are related to DV
  • 3 – 4 women are murdered by their significant other every day of the year. Most are not at work
  • Murder is the #1 cause of death for women while at work
  • 3-5 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and health care. This is probably significantly higher, but not reported for whatever reasons

 

Everyone gets a little distraught from time-to-time and screams at our significant others once in a while. We may even call them names that we later regret and then apologize for. Sometimes that anger can detonate into physical contact that can hurt long after the bruises, cuts, welts, broken bones, & scratches have healed.

As for the statistics above, 3-4 women are killed every day by their significant other. This is the same number that was killed during WPV incidents every day in the 90s. We were all in such an up-roar then over that. Where is the outrage over DV because of these numbers? Is it because it happens mainly at a residence and not at a business and therefore none of our stinking business? And besides, it’s a personal matter. Right?

The statistics can be unsettling for some. But after you have digested and accepted them, do your own research on them, as fact; the next question is how can you protect your employees from a DV and WPV incident? For both victims and co-workers alike. It’s more than just protecting the business and its financial resources. In the next post, I’ll discuss a few ways to help minimize the incident and prevent such tragedy in your business.

DV is not just a personal issue, especially when it comes to the workplace, and threatens co-workers, customers, and the well-being of everyone working, shopping, or visiting. It is an issue that literally can make some employees fear for their lives, whether they are the victim, or target by association because the perpetrator will stop at nothing, no one, to kill or maim their intended victim,

Emotional and psychological trauma can & will cost your business thousands or hundreds of thousands. If the incident turns physical then that trauma can potentially cost your organization millions and force it out of business. That will cost your employees much more than just lingering mental trauma.

Think your insurance will cover all that expense? Maybe or maybe not. If the business knew about a potential threat and did nothing, except perfunctory lip service about it, then the business itself could be totally and wholly liable for it. That is the fact that could cost you bankruptcy and closure of it.

As security & human resource professionals, and just plain human beings, we need to recognize the potential of DV to invade our workspaces and cause injury to our most valuable assets, the people who make the organization run. Those injuries will typically not just be relegated to the abused employee. Many times, it will spill over to co-workers, and if it’s a customer or visitor getting caught by mistake…then the organization could really be ready to be proverbially hung out to dry

This post has focused on differing aspects of what DV can harm the victims, organization, and plain passersby. The next post will go further into depth about the security measures to help to lessen the possibility of a DV perpetrator overrunning your organization like a horde of cockroaches on a piece of dead meat.

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.

Copyright 2020 Robert D. Sollars

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