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A Wake-up Call to Businesses: Domestic Violence
Doesn't Stay At Home When an Employee Goes to Work

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -
You may not know it, but a silent  epidemic could be affecting your workforce.

As an employer or supervisor, these facts from Blue Shield Against Violence  should alarm you:  Thirty-one percent of American women report being  physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in  their lives.  Most victims don't tell anyone about it, which makes it likely  that the percentage is even higher.  In fact, violence between intimate  partners is so prevalent that -- although you might not recognize it --  members of your workforce may be struggling with domestic violence.

What you may find even more startling is the fact that domestic violence  doesn't stay at home when an employee goes to work.

"The effects of domestic violence spill-over into the workplace," says  Marianne Balin, who coordinates Blue Shield Against Violence, Blue Shield of  California's workplace awareness program.  "It affects productivity,  creativity, attendance and morale.  And it affects your bottom line."

A safe, supportive work environment will protect both the health of your  employees and your business.  Cutting edge companies like Blue Shield of  California, Bell Atlantic Mobile and others have already implemented domestic  violence policies and practices that are making a tremendous difference to  their employees.

"We began to educate our employees and supervisors about domestic violence  four years ago and were surprised at how many employees came forward to ask  for help or tell their stories," says Balin.  "By creating an environment in  which employees feel safe and supported, we are able to manage cases instead  of crises."

There are four steps every company can take: 

1. Educate -- increase awareness by training employees and managers about domestic violence.

2. Flex -- ensure human resource policies allow flexible opportunities that support abused employees.  For example, support the use of family medical leave so victims can access social and legal services that will make them safe.

3. Refer -- provide on-site information about community services, so victims have a place to turn.

4. Secure -- have an organized response to direct threats of domestic violence in the workplace.

Domestic violence is a workplace issue, but too many companies have yet to  address it.  The business community has a vital role to play in reducing the  impact of domestic violence.  For resources in your community, call the  National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-SAFE.  To learn more about Blue  Shield Against Violence, please call (415) 229-5861.

SOURCE  Blue Shield of California