Workplace Domestic Violence: A Billion Dollar Problem

Workplace Domestic Violence: A Billion Dollar Problem

Work to End Domestic Violence Day Raises Awareness, Stresses Need for Education

October 1, 2001




With an annual cost of $4.5 billion, according to the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, most employers can't afford to ignore the cost of domestic violence in the workplace. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, intimate partners commit some 13,000 acts of violence against women in the workplace each year.

The New Orleans office of the nation's largest wireless company is saying enough is enough.

In a training session held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the New Orleans Police Foundation today trained Verizon Wireless employees on how to recognize and reach out to employees who may be suffering abuse at the hand of a family member or significant other.

"Employers can be a source of significant support to victims and can benefit from targeted training," said Sgt. Pat Childress, Commander Crime Prevention Unit of the New Orleans Police Department. "The impact we can have on the problem is improved exponentially when companies like Verizon Wireless work with us to proactively fight to end domestic violence. The training we conducted today will open doors for us to educate and engage their employees in the battle as well."

October 1 is Work to End Domestic Violence Day, designated as such by the Family Violence Prevention Fund to unite employers to respond to domestic violence. This issue can impact a company's bottom line through worker absenteeism, increased health care costs, higher turnover and lower productivity.

"Nearly one million women are abused every year. If one of them works for me, I want to be able to recognize and help that person any way I can," said Katherine Greene, regional president Verizon Wireless-Houston/Gulf Coast. "Next, I want to make sure employees are equipped to do the same. This issue is close to the heart of Verizon Wireless as an organization and it is very important to me."

Verizon Wireless' local training is an extension of the organization's nationwide commitment to maximize the safety and productivity of their employees.

According to the New Orleans Police Foundation, repeated or unexplained physical injuries are the most common sign of domestic violence, and employers should take seriously any warning that points to potential abuse.

"When numerous injuries are attributed to falls, being clumsy or accidents, an employer's antenna should go up and stay up," Childress said. "Also, victims may wear long sleeves, turtlenecks, scarves, hats, sunglasses or unusually heavy makeup to cover injuries. These items in and of themselves are not unusual, but when coupled with other warning signals, they can help employers identify employees who may need help."

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund's Web site, "By working to mitigate the economic, legal, and productivity risks related to domestic violence, a business will also create a workplace that is safer for victims, and will send a powerful message to society that responding to domestic violence is 'good business.'"

Employers interested in workplace domestic violence training can contact the New Orleans Police Foundation at (504) 483-2030 or http://www.gnofn.org/~nopf/homepage.html . Founded in March 1996, the New Orleans Police Foundation is a non-profit, independent organization created to assist the New Orleans Police Department. The Foundation serves as a liaison between the public and private sectors of the City and its mission is to make New Orleans a safer place to live and do business. Through their support of crime reduction programs, the Foundation hopes to achieve the goal of lowering crime to the 1960's level.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund is a national non-profit organization that mobilizes various individuals, professionals and organizations to join the campaign against domestic violence through public education/prevention campaigns, public policy reform, model training, advocacy programs and organizing. The organization's Web site is www.endabuse.org.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 28 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.