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 3, 2001




With an annual cost of $4.5 billion, according to 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 Houston regional office of the nation's largest wireless company is saying enough is enough, starting with its president and executive team.

In the first of several training sessions to be held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the Houston Area Women's Center today trained Katherine Greene, regional president of Verizon Wireless, and her staff on how to recognize and reach out to employees who may be suffering abuse at the hand of a family member or significant other. The training is being offered to Houston-area Verizon Wireless employees during October and November.

"Employers can be a source of significant support to victims and can benefit from targeted training," said Ellen Cohen, president and CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center. "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 started today will open doors for us to educate and engage their employees in the battle as well," Cohen said.

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 Greene. "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 Houston Area Women's Center, 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," Cohen 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 Houston Area Women's Center at (713) 582-6798 or www.hawc.org. Founded in 1977, the Houston Area Women's Center provides free shelter, support and advocacy services to survivors of sexual assault and family violence, their friends and families.

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.