Expert: Companies need domestic violence policies in place to protect employees, businesses

Domestic violence costs U.S. economy $8.3B yearly

CINCINNATI - CINCINNATI - For survivors of domestic violence, work can be a dangerous place.

Because while their abusers might not know where survivors have gone to live after leaving a violent home, they almost always know where their victims work.

That’s why it’s critically important for businesses to have policies in place related to domestic violence, said Theresa Singleton, the director of protection from abuse at the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.

“I think there’s still a mindset that domestic violence is a private matter, that employees shouldn’t bring their problems into the workplace,” Singleton said. “It doesn’t create a safe environment just to say we’re not going to deal with it.”

A Tuesday morning shooting in the quiet city of Fort Thomas, Ky., appears to be a case of domestic violence spilling into the workplace.

Police say Dennis Mathis chased his estranged wife, Alisha Waters into her office before shooting her several times and then fatally turning the gun on himself. Waters, 31, was rushed to University of Cincinnati Medical Center Tuesday. Her condition was not immediately known, but her family said had been shot four times.

The fact that Mathis tried to shoot Waters in a public place shows how desperate he had become, said Gary Dick, an associate professor of social work at the University of Cincinnati.

“Most women are killed in their homes, and most of the women who are killed are killed in the bedroom,” Dick said. “When you do it in public, you’re a much more desperate personality. You don’t care anymore. There’s nothing to lose.”

Across the board, though, abusive partners are far more likely to become violent after their victims leave the home or relationship, he said.

Nationwide, workplace violence costs American businesses between $3 billion to $5 billion a year, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures. Additionally, spouses are the fourth leading cause of homicides in the workplace, the labor department notes.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence puts the total cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy at more than $8.3 billion. That total includes medical care, mental health services and time away from work.

Singleton said large employers that have taken leadership roles when it comes to addressing domestic violence include Verizon, Macy’s, General Electric and Tri-Health.

But even small businesses can protect themselves and their employees with policies that encourage workers to tell their managers about domestic violence, Singleton said.

Then employers can take steps to transfer employees to a new location, if possible, or put extra security measures in place, she said.

“If an employer doesn’t know about it and suddenly an abuser shows up waving a gun,” Singleton said, “it’s too late.”

Several organizations around the Tri-State offer help for women in abusive relationships.

Here are some hotlines that offer help:

YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline:

Local: (513) 872-9259

Toll-free: (888) 872-9259

TTY Accessible

Women Helping Women:

24-hour Crisis Line: (513) 381-5610

Women's Crisis Center:

Northern Kentucky 24-hour Crisis Line

Toll-free: (800) 928-3335

Local: (859) 491-3335

TDD: (859) 655-2657

Maysville, Ky., 24-hour Crisis Line

Toll-free: 800-928-6708

Local: (606) 564-6708

TDD: (606) 564-3715

Safe Passage Inc.

Domestic violence services throughout Southeastern Indiana.

24-hour Toll-free helpline:

(877) 733-1990

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