Domestic violence is a primary cause of injury to women in the United States: Over one- third of women admitted to an emergency room for violence-related injuries were abused by an intimate partner.

Workplace Statistics

  • In 1998, 1 in 8 women ages 18 to 64 were physically abused by their intimate partner. Three-quarters were employed at the time of the abuse, and almost 40 percent sought support from supervisors or co-workers (1998 Oregon Domestic Violence Needs Assessment).
  • Former or current boyfriends and husbands commit over 14,000 violent incidents in the workplace each year (Workplace Crime 1992-1996, Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 1998).
  • Homicide is by far the most frequent cause of women’s workplace deaths. In 17 percent of these homicides, the alleged assailants were former or current boyfriends or husbands (U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, Facts on Working Women, No. 96-3, October 1996).
  • 74 percent of employed, battered women are harassed at work by their boyfriends or husbands. This harassment causes 56 percent of these women to be late for work five days a month, 27 percent to leave work early five days a month, and 54 percent to miss an average of three full days a month. (Friedman & Couper, The Cost of Domestic Violence, A Preliminary Investigation of the Financial Cost of Domestic Violence, Victim Services Agency, 1987)
  • According to the Bureau of National Affairs, domestic violence costs employers between $3 billion and $5 billion a year. This cost stems from increased health-care costs, lost productivity, and absenteeism (Personnel Journal, April 1995).

Twenty years ago, most people thought domestic violence was a private family problem that shouldn't be openly discussed. Now, because battered women have come forward and broken the silence, domestic violence is seen as a serious community problem. Bringing domestic violence out in the open is one of the steps toward ending abuse.

Women from all parts of society are abused, including women of all socioeconomic statuses, cultures, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations and physical abilities.

Our response to abused women must come from all the community’s resources: the legal system, law enforcement, the health care system, social services, schools, churches and other religious organizations, social groups, and the workplace.

Everyone’s Business

Domestic violence is a difficult topic, and can stir up many complex feelings. If you become upset while reading through this training, be sure to take care of yourself. One way might be to take a short break away from the computer, talk to a trusted friend, and come back when you feel ready. If necessary, call your local crisis line.

In this training, the words "woman" and "she" are used to refer to victims. We have done that because 85% of victims are women assaulted by male partners. It is important to remember, however, that in the other 15% of cases, men or men and women in same-sex relationships may be victims. These men and women face additional isolation and fear due to social attitudes about gender roles and/or sexual orientation.

This training uses the terms "domestic violence," "abuse," and "intimate partner violence" to refer to the same things - an ongoing pattern of hurtful behaviors directed at one person in an intimate relationship.

Workplaces vary in size, resources for employees, work rules and policies, and management attitudes about workplace violence and domestic violence. As you read this material, keep in mind how this information might be used in your workplace.