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Apr 29 2011

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Advocates say domestic violence spills into the workplace

By Michelle Wirth, Public Broadcasting Atlanta

The workplace might not come to mind when you think about domestic violence. However, advocates against domestic violence say what happens at home can have a dramatic impact on employers.

To help employers take a preventative approach to workplace domestic violence, Partnership Against Domestic Violence held its annual “When Domestic Violence Goes to Work” conference in Sandy Springs.

Advocates say one in four women are victims of domestic violence. They say that can cause high absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and loss of productivity. Susan Rodriguez is a spokesperson for PADV:

“Employers it’s important that they send a message to employees that this is an issue that they care about. They can do that by raising awareness.”

Rodriguez says companies should develop a policy to deal with domestic violence and the workplace. She also says prevention training can help managers and coworkers identify victims. Linda Boatwright is director of employee and labor relations for Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta. She says since undergoing prevention training last year, the company identified at least seven domestic violence cases.

“If you think about a workforce that represents 1800 employees that’s significant, but even just one is significant.”

Boatwright says one of the cases was an employee who was being abused by her husband.

“We quite frankly had to move her because her husband was a stalker, her family also received counseling. It’s turned out to be a successful situation.”

But the partnership against domestic violence says not all victims are as lucky. Advocates say homicide is the second leading cause of death among women in workforce.


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