Reference & Background Checks

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter recently resigned from his position, because of allegations of domestic violence from his two ex-wives. The initial issue wasn’t the abuse itself, which he denied, but rather that Porter’s security clearance had been held up, due to the fact that he could be subject to blackmail.

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If you’re a hiring company without blackmail concerns, you may think domestic violence isn’t applicable to your particular work environment. However, domestic violence is very much a workplace issue.

At Work

In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 500 workplace homicides, up from 417 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); 394 of these incidents were intentional shootings, up from 354 in 2015. Other incidents involved stabbing, cutting, slashing, and piercing.

As in past years, BLS data shows assailants in workplace homicides differ greatly depending on the gender of the decedent.

In 2016, relatives or domestic partners were the most frequent assailants in work-related homicides of women (40 percent) but accounted for 2 percent of assailants in homicides of men.

Other statistics from the BLS are also worth noting. Homicides accounted for 10 percent of all fatal occupational injuries in the United States in 2016. However, homicides represented 24 percent of fatal occupational injuries to women in 2016 compared with 9 percent of fatal occupational injuries to men.

At Home

Domestic violence statistics show how widespread, and potentially deadly, the problem is.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) shares numerous statistics, each of which includes a research source. Here are several statistics that have implications for the workplace:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime.
  • 72 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94 percent of the victims of these murder-suicides are female.
  • A study of intimate partner homicides finds that 20 percent of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders or bystanders.
  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.

Fitting a Profile

Victims of domestic abuse aren’t a particular “type” of individual. They come from all walks of life and hold every imaginable job, including senior management positions. The same is true of abusers.

This makes it nearly impossible to rely on intuition to assess a situation. The allegations against Rob Porter may have been ignored at first, because Porter didn’t seem to fit the supposed profile of an abuser. Porter is a Harvard graduate and was a Rhodes scholar. He spent two years as a Mormon missionary. His coworkers viewed him as polite and capable.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.