Nobody knows more about the impact of partner violence on the workplace - and how businesses should address it.
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Victims & Perpetrators
In February of 2008, the CDC released the most comprehensive US survey regarding intimate partner violence. CDC researchers asked adult participants in the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey if they would answer questions about intimate-partner violence. More than 70,000 Americans -- just over half those asked -- agreed.

The results:
  • 23.6% of women and 11.5% of men reported at least one lifetime episode of intimate-partner violence.
  • In households with incomes under $15,000 per year, 35.5% of women and 20.7% of men suffered violence from an intimate partner.
  • 43% of women and 26% of men in multiracial non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
  • 39% of women and 18.6% of men in American Indian/Alaska Native households suffered partner violence.
  • 26.8% of women and 15.5% of men in white non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
  • 29.2% of women and 23.3% of men in black non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
  • 20.5% of women and 15.5% of men in Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
(Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 8, 2008 Issue)
A US study published in April 2004 found that women in their 50s and beyond report suffering physical and verbal abuse at a rate similar to that of younger women. The study of nearly 92,000 women ages 50 to 79 found that at the outset 10,200 said they had been abused sometime in the past year. Three years later, over 2,400 more women reported newly suffering abuse, according to findings published in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Charles Mouton and his colleagues gathered their figures using data from the Women's Health Initiative, a national medical study of postmenopausal women. At the start of the study and again three years later, participants were asked whether a family member or friend had physically abused them in the past year. They were also asked about verbal abuse such as put-downs, severe criticism and threats. Overall, 11 percent of women reported some form of abuse at the study's start, with 89 percent of them saying they'd been subjected to verbal abuse alone.

Verbal abuse, Mouton said, can cause both physical and mental harm. Research has linked it to stress and depression, and people who suffer verbal abuse tend to report poorer physical and psychological health. Among women in the study, those in their 50s were more likely to report abuse than older women were, and low income was associated with a higher risk of any type of abuse. Black women were nearly three times more likely than white women to say they'd been physically abused, but white women reported more verbal abuse.

According to the researchers, most studies on abuse have focused on younger women or on frail elderly adults, who are at risk of abuse by caregivers. The new findings, they say, show that healthy older women may suffer rates of abuse comparable to, or even higher, than those of younger women. Mouton said he thinks doctors need to be more aware of the potential for abuse among their older female patients. He noted that he routinely screens such patients for abuse, although studies have not yet shown whether routine screening is effective in spotting and stopping abuse.

(SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, April 2004)
On February 17, 2004 a study of partner violence perpetrators and the workplace was released by the Maine Department of Labor and Family Crisis Services, a nonprofit organization. The study found that employed partner violence offenders have a significant impact on their workplaces. Among the significant impacts reported by offenders:
  • Over three-quarters of offenders used workplace resources at least once to express remorse or anger, check up on, pressure, or threaten the victim.
  • 73% of supervisors were aware of the domestic abuse offender's arrest, but only 15% reminded the employee that domestic abuse is a crime.
  • 74% had easy access to their intimate partner's workplace, with 21% of offenders reporting that they contacted her at the workplace in violation of a no contact order.
  • 70 domestic abuse offenders lost 15,221 hours of work time due to their domestic abuse arrests. At Maine's average hourly wage, this equals approximately $200,000.
  • 68% of offenders said that domestic abuse posters and brochures in the workplace would help prevent domestic abuse from impacting the business.
  • 48% of offenders had difficulty concentrating at work, with 19% of offenders reporting a workplace accident or near miss from inattentiveness due to pre-occupation with their relationship.
  • 42% of offenders were late to work.
(Source: Maine Department of Labor and Family Crisis Services study released February 17, 2004.)
Men who drink alcohol and have a predisposition for physical violence toward their female partners are more likely to be violent on the days they drink alcohol, according to a study conducted at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) and reported in the February 2003 issue of the American Psychological Association's Journal.

(Fals-Stewart, W. (2003) The Occurrence of Partner Physical Aggression on Days of Alcohol Consumption: A Longitudinal Diary Study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(1), 41-52.)
In 2001, Employers Against Domestic Violence (Boston, MA) conducted focus groups with convicted male domestic violence offenders, and asked them about the impact their behavior had on their workplaces.

They found that abusers made costly and dangerous mistakes on the job as a result of perpetrating domestic violence, most abusers used company phones, e-mail, and vehicles in order to perpetrate domestic abuse, most abusers used paid work time in order to attend court for matters relating to their perpetration of domestic violence, most employers expressed support for the abuser (but few expressed concern for the victim), and 10% of employers posted bail for abusers or granted them paid leaves of absence for court dates related to domestic violence.
Fifty-two percent of all violent crimes committed by a relative involve spouses and ex-spouses. One in four spousal attacks involve persons who are divorced.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1995, May 2000, NCJ 171129)
Of all adult domestic violence cases reported to the National Crime Victimization Survey, in 1998, approximately 85% were victimizations of women by their current or former partners. Compared to males, females experienced 5 times as many incidents of violence by an intimate. Women were the victims in about 876,340 of the violent crimes committed by an intimate, compared to approximately 157,330 incidents committed against men.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000, NCJ 178247)
In 1999, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services received 55,558 police reports of family offenses involving adult intimate partners. An adult female was identified as the victim in 84% of these reported family offenses.

(NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, 1999 Crime & Justice Annual Report)
Of women who reported being raped and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18, three quarters (76%) were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabitating partner, date or boyfriend.

(Prevalence Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, November, 1998)
Boys who have witnessed partner violence are much more likely to become batterers in their adult relationships than boys who have not had exposure to partner violence in their families. The data is mixed for girls.

(Hotaling and Sugarman, 1996)
In 1995, almost one in five reported violent crimes where the victim knew the offender, involved the use of a weapon.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1995)
Nearly 2 in 3 female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker.

(Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. iii)
Almost 6 times as many women victimized by intimates as those victimized by strangers did not report their violent victimization to police because they feared reprisal from the offender.

(Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 1)
Annually, compared to males, females experienced over 10 times as many incidents of violence by an intimate. On average each year, women experienced 572,032 violent victimizations at the hands of an intimate, compared to 48,983 incidents committed against men.

(Ronet Bachman Ph.D., U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report," January 1994, p. 6)

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