What is domestic violence and who is impacted?
Domestic violence is violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. Forms of abuse include: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. It impacts millions of individuals across the United States, regardless of age, gender, economic status, race, religion, or education.
More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Approximately 7 million women are raped, and/or physically assaulted, by a current or former intimate partner each year. Although most domestic violence crimes are against women, there are upwards of three million domestic violence crimes against men and nearly four million children are exposed to domestic violence every year. Domestic violence causes physical and emotional damage to all of those involved (male or female) and to all those who are exposed (children).
Domestic violence impacts children even if they are only witnesses. Witnessing domestic violence teaches those children that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts, so they become much more likely to perpetuate the cycle of abuse on their future partners. Exposure to domestic violence may put children at risk of developing psychiatric disorders, problems at school, aggressive behavior, low self-esteem, developmental problems, and learning disabilities. Children who live with a constant threat of domestic violence (even if not directed toward them) carry that fear with them to school and all other parts of their lives. This constant state of fear can make it extremely challenging to learn.
Schools can help these students by providing an environment that is predictable, consistent, and safe. Experts recommend: limiting unexpected transitions and letting the students anticipate upcoming changes by saying things like “in five minutes we will be…”; giving choices to students so they feel a sense of control; and increasing their sense of belonging by encouraging membership in school clubs or sports teams.
Domestic violence severely impacts not only the victims but the entire community. In addition to the devastating damage suffered by the victims and their families, these crimes also have huge financial costs to the community. Additionally, victims of domestic violence tend to develop mental health issues that impact their lives even if they escape the violence.
Domestic violence affects us all–women, children, and men–and all of us must be part of the solution. If you think someone may be a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
When Domestic Violence Comes to Work
With the pervasiveness and severity of domestic violence in the United States, domestic violence walks in the doors of each and every workplace every single day. 21% of full-time employed adults have reported they were victims of domestic violence. Of those, a staggering 74% of that group report being harassed while at work.
When domestic violence enters the workplace, the implications can range from reduced employee productivity to serious injuries and violence that endangers co-workers. These domestic violence issues cannot be dismissed as simply “family matters.” Research shows that employers can and do make a difference in contributing to the safety of those experiencing domestic violence. The employer should create a clear domestic violence policy for the workplace including steps to take if you suspect someone is being abused. Those steps may include reserved parking spots closer to the building, moving the victim’s office away from open windows or the front desk, calling your EAP, or offering flexible work hours and time off. Developing a domestic violence education program is also essential.
Join us in taking the first step to combatting domestic violence in the workplace, and start the conversation now.