Domestic violence affects everyone…

Posted by Liz April 9th, 2013

I have been writing about domestic violence for more than a decade–and am still stunned and saddened at how insidious and ubiquitous it is. viewerAs I report in the May issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine, domestic violence is not a private issue between two lovers, it is a national health epidemic that is not just relegated to the home. This particular piece looks at the workplace. As every expert I spoke with said–even if the victim has left her abuser and found safe shelter, she still needs to work–and he knows where that is. In fact, one in five women who work are victims of domestic violence; and homicide is the second leading cause of death for women at work. And as I learned first hand in reporting this piece, everyone is in danger–not just the victims trapped in these relationships or trying to get out. Their colleagues and friends, total strangers. Customers, receptionists, random passerbys.

Does your company have a domestic violence policy on its books? Likely not. And yet it is, like sexual harassment was in the seventies, a dark secret of every American workplace. I not only spoke with the leading experts in the field–special thanks to Kim Wells at Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Maya Raghu of Futures Without Violence who helped launch Workplacesrespond.org and Pam Paziotopolous, a former prosecutor who now consults with companies about how to protect ourselves and our workplaces from this specific kind of violence, I spoke to women who lost loved ones to it.

Kathy Batista was getting her hair done at a salon in Casslebury, Florida when her mother, Gladys Cabrera, was shot dead only a few feet from her. Neither woman knew the gunman. Deb Kenny lost her 26-year-old daughter, Jessica to this sickness when Jessica’s ex of more than four years showed up at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, where Jess worked as a concierge, and shot her and then himself one busy Friday evening. And Tami Gemmell lost three of her employees–and friends–when a gunman showed up at her busy salon in Brookfield, Wisconsin on a Sunday afternoon, enraged that Zina Haughton,his wife of 15 years had taken out a restraining order against him. She finally found the courage to leave: He killed her and two colleagues, and then after a stand off with the police, took his own life. This madness must stop. I have written many stories on the issue, but this is the first that made me feel like we can make a nationwide change: if your employer does not have a domestic violence policy, ask that one be created. Today.

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