“You saved my life.”
That’s something an employer doesn’t hear every day, but it’s exactly what an employee said to Dave, a local business owner. He had invited us to come in during lunch breaks and talk about domestic abuse.
The employees listened with interest, but one was stunned at what she heard. She sensed that something was wrong with her relationship, but she wondered if it was only her imagination. Perhaps she was overreacting, or just being too sensitive. But as she listened over lunch that day, she realized that she was a victim of abuse … and she needed help.
After lunch, she summoned up her courage, and walked into the HR manager’s office. She explained that she was being abused and wanted help. Dave and the manager didn’t hesitate for a moment. They immediately took steps to ensure that she was safe while at work, and connected her with resources about developing a safety plan and escaping from the abuse. Their actions and support empowered her to make a change that ultimately saved her life.
Domestic violence doesn’t happen somewhere else, to some other people. It’s all around us, affecting your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends, and even your family members. We know that one in four families is affected by abuse, even in the nicest neighborhoods. It has a significant impact on the workplace, too, costing American companies $727.8 million annually in lost productivity and 7.9 million paid workdays. Plus, three-quarters of victims report that their abuser has harassed them while at work.
When Dave shared his employee’s comment, I was gripped by the opportunities we all have to literally save someone’s life. These are people we see every day … people with hopes and dreams just like you and me … only we don’t realize that their hopes and dreams focus on survival.
If you’re an employer, please help these people by doing exactly what Dave did. Invite us to speak to your employees, help you develop policies to ensure that employees are safe at work, and train your managers on what to do when an employee is brave enough to disclose abuse. Allow us to place resource cards and information that you can place in restrooms, break rooms, locker rooms, and other areas. Most of all, make it clear that your company will not condone or ignore domestic violence.
Who knows? One day, an employee may thank you for saving her life.