Leading Inspiration: The Facts on the Workplace and Domestic Violence

Submitted by Rene S. Firari Will, Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at St. Agnes Hospital

You're never far from good healthOn average, four to five women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States.  Women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year. Domestic violence can follow victims to work, spilling over into the workplace when a victim is harassed, receives threatening phone calls, is absent because of injuries or is less productive due to extreme stress.  Domestic violence is a serious, recognizable and preventable issue, similar to other workplace health and safety issues that affect businesses and their bottom lines.

Prevalence

  • Women are much more likely than men to be victims of on-the-job intimate partner homicide. Spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends were responsible for the on-the-job deaths of 321 women and 38 men from 1997 to 2009, according to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • In 2008 relatives and other personal acquaintances committed 28 percent of all workplace homicides in which women were victims, and just four percent of all workplace homicides in which men were victims.
  • According to a 2006 study from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in four large private industry establishments (with more than 1,000 employees) reported at least one incidence of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in the past year.
  • A 2005 phone survey of 1,200 full-time American employees found that 44 percent of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence’s effect in the workplaces, and 21 percent identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence.

Toll on Productivity

  • • A 2005 study 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.
  • About 130,000 victims of stalking in a 12-month period from 2005 to 2006 reported that they were fired or asked to leave their job because of the stalking.
  • About one in eight employed stalking victims lost time from work because of fear for their safety or because they needed to get a restraining order or testify in court. More than half of these victims lost five days or more from work.
  • A 2005 study of female employees in Maine who experienced domestic violence found that 98 percent had difficulty concentrating on work tasks; 96 percent reported that domestic abuse affected their ability to perform their job duties; 87 percent received harassing phone calls at work; 78 percent reported being late to work because of abuse; and 60 percent lost their jobs due to domestic abuse.
  • In a 2005 telephone survey from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, 64 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as victims of domestic violence indicated that their ability to work was affected by the violence. More than half of domestic violence victims (57 percent) said they were distracted, almost half (45 percent) feared getting discovered, and two in five were afraid of their intimate partner’s unexpected visits (either by phone or in person).

Costs

  • • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking totaled $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services, and lost productivity from paid work and household chores.  Of this, total productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion in the United States in 1995. When updated to 2003 dollars, the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking is more than $8.3 billion. And in 2010 dollars, it would be considerably more. Much of these costs are paid for by the employer.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is $727.8 million (in 1995 dollars), with more than 7.9 million paid workdays – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs – lost each year.
  • The Tennessee Economic Council on Women estimates that domestic violence costs Tennessee approximately $174 million per year. This 2006 report considers costs in lost wages, productivity, sick leave, absenteeism and costs to the medical, legal and social services systems.

Employers’ Perspectives

  • Nearly two in three corporate executives (63 percent) say that domestic violence is a major concern in our society and more than half (55 percent) cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, but only 13 percent of corporate executives think their companies should address domestic violence.
  • Nine in 10 employees (91 percent) say that domestic violence has a negative impact on their company’s bottom line. Just 43 percent of corporate executives agree.
  • Seven in 10 corporate executives (71 percent) do not perceive domestic violence as a major issue at their company.
  • More than 70 percent of United States workplaces do not have a formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence. Programs or policies related to workplace violence are more prevalent among larger private establishments or governments.

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