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.


  1. Jennifer Kubiak says:

    I am the editor of a publication for our local association of Insurance Professionals. I am writing to ask your permission to use this information in our October edition as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please contact me ASAP. Thank you!

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