Every day, domestic abuse, particularly to women, spills into our workplace – with tragic consequences. As is well-documented, women are much more likely than men to be victims of on-the-job homicide committed by their current or former partner.

What can employers do to prevent these incidents? Develop workplace violence prevention programs that incorporate domestic violence prevention.

Impact: Data on Domestic Violence and Workplace Safety Tell a Grim Tale

  • Nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003 and2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner, according to the Department of Labor.[1]
  • A study of domestic violence survivors found that 74 percent of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while they were at work.[2]
  • In the U.S., between 1993 and 1999, an average of 1.7 million violent victimizations per year were committed against people age 12 or older who were at work or on duty.[3]
  • More than 29,000 acts of rape or sexual assault are perpetrated against women at work each year.[4]

Awareness: October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence sponsored its first Day of Unity to connect advocates against the country. Over the years, the Day of Unity expanded and was formalized as a Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October 1987. In the same year, the domestic violence toll-free hotline and other resources were made available.

When Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first started, three decades ago, the stigma around domestic violence was very strong. Since then, in large part to the work done by advocates and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the stigma has faded and there are more and more resources available to victims.

Prevention: What Role Does a Security Director Play?

Security Directors need to work closely with their Human Resources Department to encourage employees to notify their employer of any protective orders filed within a judicial system. The Human Resources Department should be prepared to refer employees who are concerned about domestic abuse to resources that can help them.

There should be a standardized protocol for managing the notification of active protection orders. That protocol should include direct contact between the Security Director and the petitioner in the case to obtain specific details of the situation in order to assess the level of response required.

Action: 7 Tips for Security Personnel When Addressing Victims of Domestic Abuse

As I have blogged before, as a Security Director, you may be faced with working with someone who is a victim of domestic abuse. In conjunction with Human Resources, here are seven tips that will help guide your actions in such cases.

  1. Review the protective order submitted to ensure the place of employment is reflected in the order. If it isn’t, urge the employee to have the issuing judge modify the order.
  2. Often, the protective order may be known only by the local police jurisdiction from which it was issued. Make the local police jurisdiction covering the work site aware of the order in case the person of concern is seen in the area or in the event they violate the order and a public safety response is needed.
  3. Consider offering a special parking place for the employee in close proximity to a security checkpoint or entrance at the office.
  4. Have the employee change his or her email address.
  5. Obtain a photo of the subject to post at appropriate checkpoints and provide to local police.
  6. Acquire a list of resources from the local police for victims of domestic abuse to provide the employee.
  7. Ensure that the Human Resources Department provides assistance to employees who may be victims of domestic abuse with guidance on tapping resources such as an Employee Assistance Program.

Humanity: Act with Discretion, Respect and Compassion

Discretion, respect and compassion are the keys to a successful program to protect victims of domestic abuse in the workplace. Make the privacy of the victim a high priority throughout this process.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse – emotional, psychological or physical – please seek help immediately. If you need assistance in establishing policies and procedures within your organization as part of a workplace violence prevention strategy, please reach out to me for more information.


[1] Family Violence Prevention Fund. 1998. The Workplace Guide for Employers, Unions and Advocates. San Francisco, CA.

[2] Family Violence Prevention Fund. 1998. The Workplace Guide for Employers, Unions and Advocates. San Francisco, CA.

[3]  Duhart, Delis T. 2001. “National Crime Victimization Survey: Violence in the Workplace, 1993-1999.” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved January 9, 2004

[4]  Crime Characteristics: Summary Findings. 2001. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved January 9, 2004. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict_c.htm