Employers Address Domestic & Sexual Violence

Employers Address Domestic & Sexual Violence

As part of a series of initiatives designed to prevent violence and help victims, on October 27, 2010 President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center, an unprecedented new resource that makes it easier than ever for employers to adopt vitally important policies to protect employees from domestic and sexual violence.

The new Resource Center was formed by a partnership of eight national organizations led by Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, and funded by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). It includes a new website for employers with information and a set of powerful tools that have never before been available.

At the October 27 White House event, President Obama said, “The bottom line is this: Nobody in America should live in fear because they are unsafe in their own home – no adult, no child. And no one who is the victim of abuse should ever feel that they have no way to get out. We need to make sure every victim of domestic violence knows that they are not alone; that there are resources available to them in their moment of greatest need. And as a society, we need to ensure that if a victim of abuse reaches out for help, we are there to lend a hand.” Watch video and read the transcript of President Obama and Vice President Biden’s remarks here.

The event marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It also featured Council on Women and Girls Chair Valerie Jarrett, Major League Baseball’s Joe Torre and White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal.

On average, there are some 1,300 attacks and four to five murders of women due to domestic violence each day in this country. Every day hundreds of women are sexually assaulted. The violence often follows victims to work. A 2006 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 70 percent of U.S. workplaces do not have domestic and sexual violence policies in place.

Interactive New Website

The new website is designed to change that. At www.workplacesrespond.org, employers can enter their name, location, and number of employees, and then go step-by-step to develop and download a workplace policy addressing stalking and domestic, sexual and teen dating violence that is right for them.

The website also offers a quiz to test knowledge about domestic and sexual violence, fact sheets, frequently asked questions with answers, a protection order guide, safety and security information, and an interactive training component.

In addition, it offers components to help employers and unions assess security issues, respond safely and effectively to violence, provide referrals to community based services when violence is identified, and implement measures to prevent violence.

“We have worked extensively on workplace issues in the past, but these interactive tools and the broad focus on all forms of interpersonal violence are unique. We are convinced that the Resource Center provides what employers need and want,” said Futures Without Violence President Esta Soler.

“Too often in the past, employers have come to us after an employee who was a domestic violence victim is murdered at work, or a stalking victim is raped outside her workplace,” Soler added. “In these situations, employers are left to wonder what they could have done differently, and colleagues are traumatized or terrorized. With these new tools, employers can act before tragedies occur, helping to prevent them and to keep workplaces safe and productive.”

Futures Without Violence leads the Resource Center’s partnership of eight organizations: Legal Momentum; Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and its National Sexual Violence Resource Center; the Resource Sharing Project of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault; the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence; American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, the Stalking Resource Center a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Victim Rights Law Center. In recent years, Futures Without Violence and its partners have developed numerous resources to help businesses better assist victims of violence, including self-help kits for employers, model workplace policies for addressing violence, and a training program for employees, supervisors and executives.

Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center was authorized in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. The initial, one-year, $916,000 project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, OVW. The multi-disciplinary project will develop outreach, technical assistance and training programs and emphasize getting information to employers of underrepresented employees, including those who are low wage, immigrant, young, older or in other ways vulnerable.  Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) and Senator Patty Murray (WA) championed support for the Resource Center in Congress and have been long-time advocates for the needs of victims of violence in the workplace.

In recent years, Futures Without Violence and its partners have developed numerous resources to help businesses better assist victims of violence, including self-help kits for employers, model workplace policies for addressing violence, and a training program for employees, supervisors and executives.

Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center was authorized in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. The initial, one-year, $916,000 project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, OVW. The multi-disciplinary project will develop outreach, technical assistance and training programs, and emphasize getting information to employers of underrepresented employees, including those who are low wage, immigrant, young, older or in other ways vulnerable.

According to a 2006 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in four large private industry establishments (with more than 1,000 employees) reported at least one incident of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in the past year. Women are much more likely than men to be victims of on-the-job intimate partner homicide. A 2005 study from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence using data from a national telephone survey of 8,000 women about their experiences with violence, found that women experiencing physical intimate partner violence victimization reported an average of 7.2 days of work-related lost productivity and 33.9 days in productivity losses associated with other activities.

Other Initiatives

At the White House event, Administration officials announced a range of other measures covering six federal agencies, to help address the impacts of violence. They include initiatives to reduce the backlog of rape kits that have not been tested or processed, provide guidance to housing authorities and landlords so they can evict perpetrators and make sure victims do not lose their housing, and increase financial security for victims of violence, and:

  • The Affordable Care Act’s new Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program provides $1.5 billion over five years to states for evidence-based home visitation services. The law requires every state to consider domestic violence as one of six benchmarks in improving the health and safety of families in at-risk communities. Nurses, social workers, educators, child development specialists or other staff will promote the health and well-being of children and their families in these communities, intervening early to reduce rates of domestic violence and child abuse.
  • Through the Affordable Care Act’s new Pregnancy Assistance Fund, NC, NM, OR, VA and WA will provide help for pregnant women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. High schools, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families offices, health clinics, and child welfare agencies will have tools to reach vulnerable women and connect them with services.
  • The Head Start program is reaching out to pregnant women and parents of young children to prevent and respond to domestic violence. Head Start centers in AL, FL, MI, MT, NM and SC are launching a community-based Safe Families, Safe Homes early education curriculum to help staff and partners identify and respond to young children exposed to violence.
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has launched the Defending Childhood Initiative to protect children from the harmful consequences of witnessing violence. The initiative will work to prevent exposure to all types of violence and build children’s resiliency to recover and thrive when violence does occur.
  • The new Enhancing Services for Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence program supports innovative, evidence-informed services for children exposed to domestic violence. Starting this month, projects in AK, NJ, ID and WI and a national clearinghouse will help children heal from the trauma of abuse and build stronger community services.
  • New tools for communities to improve enforcement of protective orders. Civil Protection Orders: A Guide for Improving Practice to keep victims and their children safe by providing guidance to advocates, attorneys, judges, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors to ensure that protective orders are issued, served and enforced throughout the United States.
  • The Access to Justice for Domestic Violence Victims, a pilot project to encourage more commitment from the private bar to provide pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence. Beginning in New Orleans, LA, and Baltimore, MD, private law firms will hire law students who have participated in law school clinics and defer their start dates while they work at domestic violence service providers to help victims secure protective orders, navigate the family courts, and access safe housing.

More information is available here.

[Browse more features]