Domestic Violence in the Workplace

A Domestic Violence Statistics guest post by Kristina Morris.

Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Domestic violence involves physical and emotional abuse behaviors directed toward another party in a relationship. The primary purpose of domestic violence is to control the party the actions are directed against. No one is immune to domestic violence. It affects both women and men, gay and straight, married and unmarried, young and old. It cuts across all racial, religious, socioeconomic and demographic lines. According to domestic violence is responsible for more individual harm than muggings, rapes and car accidents each year. The seriousness of these incidents cannot be overstated. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Justice, found that over two million victims annually report physical or sexual assaults at the hands of an intimate partner.

Domestic violence and its effects spill over into the workforce on a regular basis. The statistics are staggering, yet often overlooked. The Family Violence Prevention Fund notes that 74 percent of working, battered women are harassed by their partners while at the workplace. The U.S Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2000, found homicide to be the second leading cause of death on the job. The number of rapes and sexual assaults committed against women on the job number above 25,000 according to the U.S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor. Further, over one million women are stalked annually in the United States and at least of quarter of them admit to missing work due to the stalking. The effects of domestic violence in the workplace are felt by employees and employers alike. Productivity, absenteeism, job loss and increased health insurance cost are all results of domestic violence. A report by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department entitled “Domestic Violence and the Workplace” cites that domestic violence costs employers between $3-5 billion each year.

Employee Effects

Lack of productivity occurs as a result of the victim being distracted. Inability to concentrate is often due to worrying about being harassed on the phone or in-person, legal/court responsibilities and depression.

Missing work or showing up late to work is often symptomatic of domestic violence. Injury, shame and outside medical or legal responsibilities often contribute to absence or tardiness.

Job loss is an unfortunate side effect of domestic violence. According to studies show that anywhere from 25% all the way up to 90% of victims had lost a job or resigned as a result of these issues.

The stigma of being a domestic violence victim continues to be a major issue. It forces victims to miss work, hide or lie to family and friends at work. Less than half of all victims report their situation to their supervisors according to the American Institute on Domestic Violence. Even with all of the statistics surrounding domestic violence in the workplace many employers maintain a hands-off approach to dealing with the matter.

Employer Actions

Employers are aware that domestic violence has a negative effect on the workplace. They know that it affects productivity and attendance. Companies are also aware that domestic violence increases their health insurance costs. They also know that workplace conditions would improve if the matters were addressed within the business. Employers can actively engage in preventing, or reducing, the effects of domestic violence on the workplace, by implementing several different approaches.

Several options exist for companies that seek to take a more active role in suppressing the effects of domestic violence. Companies should have a defined domestic violence workplace policy in effect, complete with security measures and leave policies. Both managers and employees should undergo training and have access to educational materials. Alliances with domestic violence prevention organizations, educators and law enforcement should be established. Even using health plans that have domestic violence services, including counseling, would be beneficial. Ultimately, until employers take an active role in workplace domestic violence issues, things will not change. Hopefully with education and awareness change will come.

What’s Worse: Physical Scars or Mental Scars?

A domestic violence guest post by Joseph Pittman.


If you asked anyone who hasn't experienced psychological abuse what is worse: psychological or physical abuse, you'd probably hear the latter as the answer more frequently. When we think of physical abuse, we tend to think of it as more damaging because it leaves behind obvious reminders of its occurrence. Sometimes these take a transient form, as in bruises or cuts, but other times they may remain with us for a lifetime in the form of scars or permanent injury.

Someone who has endured psychological abuse bears scars of their own, however. Psychological abuse, also called emotional or mental abuse, involves behavior that creates mental trauma. The behavior can take the form of verbal attacks, controlling behavior, or jealous behavior and can involve intimidation, threats, and forced isolation from friends and family.

Psychological abuse of this sort can cause long-lasting damage. It can result in the development of disorders like post-traumatic stressTypes of Domestic Violence disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, and/or depression. These problems may linger long after the abusive relationship has ended, thus begging the question: is mental abuse just as bad as physical abuse?

The research indicates that it is just as bad and, in some cases, may be worse. In a study of children who were exposed to violence in the home, one group of researchers found that the effects psychological abuse had on these children didn't differ from that of physical abuse. They had higher rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (English et al., 2008). Another study indicates that the partner in a relationship who is psychological abused have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, and drug use (Hines & Malley-Morrson, 2001).

Another misconception regarding psychological abuse is that it is only perpetuated by men on women. This is perhaps due to the fact that more physical abuse is committed by men. However, mental abuse can be committed by men or women, and is severely damaging in either scenario.

Often one of the most damaging aspects of physical abuse is the fear that it inspires in the victim. Psychological abuse can inspire that same fear, however, even if the actions are never carried out. For example, a partner or parent may threaten their victim repeatedly with harm that will come to them or someone they love. As long as the belief that the action could be carried out exists, psychological damage is still done. It can create an ongoing sense of fear in the victim that can manifest as a number of psychological disorders.

The psychological disorders that come about due to emotional abuse tend to remain after the abusive relationship is over. They will also often affect the victim's ability to engage in future relationships. In many cases, it will take years of therapy to return the victim to a healthy mind state.

While the signs of physical abuse are obvious, the indications of mental abuse may be easier to hide. This doesn't mean, however, that they are any less damaging. For, while cuts and bruises may fade, mental scars remain, in some cases for a lifetime.