Violence at Home (cont.)

Employers, too, are realizing that they can help, because domestic violence is not isolated to the home. It can spill over into the workplace in the form of violence, threatening phone calls, absenteeism related to injuries, or loss of productivity due to extreme stress. This is especially difficult because when the home is violent, a woman's workplace is often one of the few places where she can be safe and away from her abuser. Many organizations, including Blue Shield of California, are recognizing this and providing workplace training to help educate human resource professionals, managers, and co-workers about what to do if a worker is in a violent relationship.

You Can Help: What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Being Abused

If you ever hear or see domestic violence in action, call the police to report it immediately, says Kabat. If you suspect a woman is being abused, speak up, but do so gently. Say something like, "Look, I know something is going on. If you ever need to talk, I'm here." Putting intense pressure on the victim to talk before she's ready may only make her withdraw. Make it clear that you're available for her and that you're non-judgmental; provide her with the information and resources she will need. Because she may need to leave her home quickly, help her in advance to devise a well-thought-out safety plan that includes what she should take with her and where she should go. And remember that the help should be ongoing: A 1993 study at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that a woman is often at the greatest risk of injury or death after she leaves the abusive relationship.

Don't let lack of personal experience stop you from reaching out, says Draeger, who now works for a domestic violence advocacy group in her area. "You don't have to be a survivor to help," she says. "You just have to care."

Michele Bloomquist is a freelance writer in Portland, Ore.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005 11:39:03 PM



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