Intimate partner violence is not confined to the home. It often invades other spaces as well, including the workplace.
A CDC report found that intimate partner violence costs about $1 billion in lost time and productivity every year in the U.S., and a recent European study found that more than 20 percent of intimate partner violence victims report increased absenteeism at work, and 50 percent say it affects the quality of their work.
To address this, a University of Iowa researcher has developed a free online training program that employers can use to help their employees identify the warning signs of intimate partner violence and provide strategies to help them.
“Intimate partner violence comes with key warning signs by both the victim and abuser, and if these signs can be detected earlier, we may be able to recognize it more quickly and seek or offer help,” said Beth Livingston, associate professor management & entrepreneurship at the Tippie College of Business who studies the impact of intimate partner violence at work. She said intimate partner violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women and includes physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse, as well as controlling behaviors by an intimate partner. Tragically, one woman is killed every three days as a result of intimate partner violence.
Livingston has partnered with Paris, France-based Yves St. Laurent Beauty’s Abuse is Not Love initiative to develop the online training modules that employers can share in order to help employees identify the warning signs of intimate partner violence and provide strategies to help. She said that workplaces are especially critical for intimate partner violence because Livingston’s research has shown work is one of the few places where victims can find respite from their abuse, and their income can give them independence from their abuser.
The modules are a series of text and video, with questions that respondents answer and suggested responses that people can use to address the situation based on those answers. They’re divided into four segments that take about 15 minutes to complete. Livingston said the modules don’t provide legal advice but are designed to provide broad answers to help people start looking for a solution. They can be used by other organizations, as well, including social service agencies, schools, churches, and individuals.
Livingston offers numerous suggestions for employers based on her research to help employees who are victims of intimate partner violence, including…
—empower workers to cover for co-workers who are victims while they’re dealing with their situation
—make telling a manger about domestic partner violence a safe thing to do
—train managers to spot the signs of intimate partner violence and how to help the abused
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