If you work outside the home, we’d like you to do a little math. Total the number of women in your workplace, or in the building where you work. Have a number? Now divide that number by four. Hold on to that answer.
Statistics prove time and again that about one woman in every four is, has been, or will be the victim of abuse. That answer you just computed represents the number of women around your job who likely fall into that category. Chilling, isn’t it? We know that some of those women are living with domestic abuse right now.
They’re good at hiding it. We’ve talked to women who became experts at covering bruises with makeup. We’ve worked with women whose partners demand so much of their attention that it makes it difficult for them to work. We’ve counseled victims whose partners would show up at work with a smile for everyone so nobody would believe what went on at home.
If you think that domestic violence doesn’t have an effect on you and your job, think again. Ask whoever is in charge of security for your employer, and they’ll tell you that domestic violence is one of the issues that causes them concern– worried that an angry spouse might show up with a weapon. What would you do in that situation?
Ask your human resources manager how many workdays are lost because abused women can’t make it into work, or the effect that being abused has on productivity. How well could you concentrate on work if you were terrified about going home or knew that each phone call might be your abuser? Three-quarters of domestic abuse victims nationwide reported that their partner had harassed them at work.
Even if it’s not obvious, domestic abuse is all around you, and even if you’re not a victim, it has some effect on your life. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to become educated about the realities of abuse and what to do when you become aware that a co-worker is a victim.
Several local employers have become partners with Sheltering Wings in recent years. They invite us in to teach managers about the warning signs of abuse, and to educate their workers about domestic violence. They allow us to put displays and emergency resource cards in their restrooms and breakrooms. They make it clear to victims of an abusive relationship that they will protect them. They provide support just as they would for other life issues that may affect their employees. Most of all, they don’t pretend that abuse is somebody else’s problem.
If your company isn’t taking an active role to overcome domestic abuse, please take the first step for them. Talk with your manager or the HR department. Ask them to adopt policies to provide security and protect victims. Encourage them to contact Sheltering Wings. We’ll provide training programs and support at no cost. But we can’t just walk in on our own. We need you to help us — and to help that woman at the next desk who’s afraid to go home this evening.