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Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence

Safety and Security Concerns

Workplaces are often the scenes for domestic and sexual violence and stalking because they may serve as the only place where a perpetrator can readily locate or access an intended victim. Employers and workplaces have legitimate concerns with maintaining the safety of the workplace or place of business, and often may have a legal obligation to do so.  Workplaces can make a real difference by implementing proactive, comprehensive programs before incidents occur, which focus on prevention as well as response. 

Changing Workplace Culture

A proactive workplace approach requires a shift in an organization’s culture. All employees should know that domestic and sexual violence and stalking are never acceptable and that offenders will be held accountable. The goal is to create a workplace where employees feel comfortable seeking assistance without fear of retribution, which can keep employees from coming forward until it is too late with information critical to ensuring the safety of all workers.

Understanding the Forms of Violence

A workplace can help employees feel comfortable and supported by providing assistance suited to their needs. While domestic and sexual violence and stalking may arise from similar types of circumstances and can co-occur, they also differ in important ways that may require distinct workplace responses. See these definitions to learn more about these types of violence.

Creating a Team

The best workplace approach relies on a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate, create and revise workplaces protocols, policies and training. The team should include human resources, legal counsel, employee assistance professionals, union representatives, security and others with relevant job duties or expertise. If possible, the team should include a former survivor who can provide an important and unique perspective.

Developing a Policy

A proactive approach also requires a workplace domestic and sexual violence and stalking policy that clearly sets forth the rights and responsibilities of both the employee and employer in a given situation. Ideally the policy would complement and incorporate other relevant workplace policies such as sexual harassment, workplace violence prevention, leave and discipline. The Workplace Policy Creation Tool reviews many of the key issues to be addressed in a workplace domestic and sexual violence policy. 

Conducting Regular Training

Regular employee and management training, including new employee orientation, helps a workplace respond in a consistent and coordinated manner to threats or violent incidents.  These suggestions for Workplace Education and Training on Domestic and Sexual Violence can help implement appropriate training.

The following sections on this website provide ideas on strengthening overall workplace violence prevention procedures to deal with domestic and sexual violence and stalking threats.

Domestic Violence

 

Sexual Violence

 

Partner Organizations Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), Legal Momentum, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and its National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project (RSP) of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Victim Rights Law Center, and Stalking Resource Center: A Program of The National Center for Victims of Crime.

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Funding by US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women

This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-TA-AX-K028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this site or in any materials on this site, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.