One in five full-time workers--both male and female--has experienced domestic violence. In one major study, 20% of those victims surveyed had been abused by a domestic partner while at work. That means, for every 2,000 employees, as many as 80 have faced some sort of abuse in their workplace. Identifying employee domestic violence victims as not easy. "Some victims choose not to disclose to coworkers for fear of being fired, embarrassed, or judged negatively for staying in a violent relationship," explains Robin Runge, director of the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence. "For many, the workplace is where they feel supported and successful, which might be jeopardized if their co-workers knew the violence they are experiencing at home." Fortunately, as employer awareness grows, more workers are discovering that assistance may be available without negative consequences.
Scope of the Problem
"Domestic violence" refers to abusive behavior in an intimate relationship, often aimed at gaining power or control over a partner. Tactics include emotional and verbal intimidation, economic domination, harassment, stalking, physical or sexual violence, and threats. Domestic violence victims and offenders are from all ethnic, socioeconomic and educational groups.
In a 2007 survey among Fortune 1000 companies, more than 50% of executives acknowledged that domestic violence affects their business. Only 13% believe that corporations have a major role to play in addressing the problem, however. Many are uncertain about how to address what are traditionally …