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Workplaces Respond to Domestic & Sexual Violence

The Facts on the Workplace and Domestic Violence

On average, four to five women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each day in the United Statesand women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year.2  Domestic violence can follow victims to work, spilling over into the workplace when a victim is harassed, receives threatening phone calls, is absent because of injuries or is less productive due to extreme stress. Domestic violence is a serious, recognizable and preventable problem, similar to other workplace health and safety issues that affect businesses and their bottom lines.

  • Domestic Violence Defined

    • Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior, including acts or threatened acts, that is used by a perpetrator to gain power and control over a current or former spouse, family member, intimate partner, or person with whom the perpetrator shares a child in common. 
    • It occurs in heterosexual and same-sex relationships and impacts individuals from all economic, educational, cultural, age, gender, racial, and religious demographics. 
    • Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, economic control, harassment, physical intimidation, or injury. 
  • Prevalence
    • Women are much more likely than men to be victims of on-the-job intimate partner homicide. Spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends and ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends were responsible for the on-the-job deaths of 321 women and 38 men from 1997-2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.3
    • Nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner.4
    • According to a 2006 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in four large private industry establishments (with more than 1,000 employees) reported at least one incidence of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in the past year.5
    • A 2005 phone survey of 1,200 full-time American employees found that 44 percent of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence's effect in their workplaces, and 21 percent identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence.6
  • Toll on Productivity
    • A 2005 study using data from a national telephone survey of 8,000 women about their experiences with violence found that women experiencing physical intimate partner violence victimization reported an average of 7.2 days of work-related lost productivity and 33.9 days in productivity losses associated with household chores, child care, school, volunteer activities, and social/recreational activities.7
    • About 130,000 victims of stalking in a 12- month period, from 2005 to 2006, reported that they were fired or asked to leave their jobs because of stalking. About one in eight employed stalking victims lost time from work because of fear for their safety or because they needed to get a restraining order or testify in court, More than half these victims lost five days or more of work.8
    • A 2005 study of female employees in Maine who experienced domestic violence found that: 98 percent had difficulty concentrating on work tasks; 96 percent reported that domestic abuse affected their ability to perform their job duties; 87 percent received harassing phone calls at work; 78 percent reported being late to work because of abuse; and 60 percent lost their jobs due to domestic abuse.9
    • In a 2005 telephone survey from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, 64 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as victims of domestic violence indicated that their ability to work was affected by the violence. More than half of domestic violence victims (57 percent) said they were distracted, almost half (45 percent) feared getting discovered, and two in five were afraid of their intimate partner's unexpected visit (either by phone or in person).10
  • Costs
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking totaled $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores. Of this, total productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion in the United States in 1995.11  When updated to 2003 dollars, the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking is more than $8.3 billion.12  And in 2010 dollars, it would be considerably more.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is $727.8 million (in 1995 dollars), with more than 7.9 million paid workdays - the equivalent of more than 32,000 full time jobs - lost each year.13
    • The Tennessee Economic Council on Women estimates that domestic violence costs Tennessee approximately $174 million per year. This 2006 report considers costs in lost wages, productivity, sick leave, absenteeism and costs to the medical, legal and social services systems.14
  • Employer’s Perspectives
    • Nearly two in three corporate executives (63 percent) say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and more than half (55 percent) cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, but only 13 percent of corporate executives think their companies should address domestic violence.15
    • Nine in ten employees (91 percent) say that domestic violence has a negative impact on their company's bottom line. Just 43 percent of corporate executives agree. Seven in ten corporate executives (71 percent) do not perceive domestic violence as a major issue at their company.16
    • More than 70 percent of United States workplaces do not have a formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence. Programs or policies related to workplace violence are more prevalent among larger private establishments or governments.17

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  1. Catalano, S., Smith, E., Snyder, H., Rand, M. 2009. Female Victims of Violence. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2008. Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 57(05);113-117. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5705a1.htm
  3. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2010. Occupational Homicides by Selected Characteristics, 1997-2009. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/work_hom.pdf
  4. Tiesman H, Gurka K, Konda S, Coben J, Amandus HE.  (2012). Workplace Homicides Among U.S. Women: The Role of Intimate Partner Violence.  Ann Epidemiol; 22:277–284. Available at: http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/S1047-2797(12)00024-5/abstract.
  5. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2006. Survey of Workplace Violence Prevention, 2005. Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.pdf
  6. CAEPV National Benchmark Telephone Survey. 2005. Bloomington, IL: Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. Available at: http://www.caepv.org/getinfo/facts_stats.php?factsec=3
  7. Arias I, Corso P. 2005. Average Cost Per Person Victimized by an Intimate Partner of the Opposite Gender: a Comparison of Men and Women. Violence and Victims, 20(4):379-91.
  8. Baum, Katrina, Catalano, Shannan, Rand, Michael and Rose, Kristina. 2009. Stalking Victimization in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. 
  9. Ridley, E, Rioux, J, Lim, KC, Mason, D, Houghton, KF, Luppi, F, Melody, T. 2005. Domestic Violence Survivors at Work: How Perpetrators Impact Employment. Maine Department of Labor and Family Crisis Services. Available at: http://mainegov-images.informe.org/labor/labor_stats/publications/dvreports/survivorstudy.pdf
  10. CAEPV National Benchmark Telephone Survey. 2005. Bloomington, IL: Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. Available at: http://www.caepv.org/getinfo/facts_stats.php?factsec=3
  11. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/IPVBook-a.pdf
  12. Max, W, Rice, DP, Finkelstein, E, Bardwell, R, Leadbetter, S. 2004. The Economic Toll of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Violence and Victims, 19(3) 259-272.
  13. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/ipv_cost/IPVBook-Final-Feb18.pdf
  14. Tennessee Economic Council on Women, The Impact of Domestic Violence on the Tennessee Economy: A Report to the Tennessee General Assembly, January, 2006.
  15. Corporate Leaders and America's Workforce on Domestic Violence Survey. 2007. Safe Horizon, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence and Liz Claiborne Inc. Available at: http://www.caepv.org/about/program_detail.php?refID=34
  16. Ibid.
  17. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2006. Survey of Workplace Violence Prevention, 2005. Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.pdf

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.