Businesses Join Battle against Domestic Violence

Article excerpt

It's free, and getting involved might help save a life.

"So, why wouldn't you join?" said Susan Nitzberg of Sewickley, program consultant for STANDING FIRM: The Business Case to End Partner Violence, a 3-year-old, nonprofit organization that helps businesses protect their employees and decrease employer costs associated with partner violence.

As president of National Council of Jewish Women, Nitzberg has worked for years to promote awareness about domestic violence and in the past has sponsored presentations locally.

The idea to involve the business community in ending domestic violence was born in 2007 during discussions among officials from FISA Foundation and other organizations focused on improving the lives of women.

"We were looking for opportunities to have more systemic impact ... to change the public dialogue about domestic and sexual violence and engage the community in ending these crimes," said Kristy Trautmann, executive director of the FISA Foundation, which has invested $225,000 toward the initiative.

"We recognized that it would require a major shift in perception. We believed it was possible, however, because of the sea of change in attitudes about substance abuse over the last 20 years," she said.

Trautmann recruited Pat Cluss, who has experience in research and program development related to partner violence, to take the director position and get STANDING FIRM up and running.

"We have such a robust network of services for victims of domestic violence, but the business community was not on anyone's radar screen. So, I thought this was an innovative and practical way to approach the problem," Cluss said.

Nitzberg said it is easy for businesses to become members by going to the organization's website, www.standingfirmswpa.com.

Once businesses join, they have access to information about implementing policies, training, and referring employees to counseling and legal resources to minimize workplace costs contributed to domestic violence and to possibly avoid incidents of violence in the workplace. …