About 27.3% of women in the United States experience domestic violence, which can spill over into the workplace, said Jim Sawyer, Director of Security Services at Seattle Children’s Hospital. But there are many actions that a security director can take to support those victims, Sawyer said, which includes proactive security planning.       

In a webinar, Supporting the Victims of Domestic Violence at Work through Pro-active Security Planning, Sawyer outlined those actions.

According to Sawyer, the one crucial position that security managers need to take regarding domestic violence in the workplace is that there is a huge amount of emphasis on the active shooter, but domestic violence is often linked to active shooter, so both need priority.

Sawyer advocates providing support for a victim at work, such as:

  1. Involve Human Resources
  2. Document the event
  3. Meet with the victim – don’t force it but do what you can
  4. Run a guns record; does the perpetrator own one?  
  5. Obtain the perpetrator’s picture (a recent one)
  6. Trespass the perpetrator and let him know that you are his only contact. This, said Sawyer, gives you the opportunity to control the situation at the workplace.  
  7. Assist the victim with a no contact order – go to court on her behalf
  8. Provide hotel support to the victim
  9. Provide car support to the victim, by changing their parking spot
  10. Provide a taxi voucher to the victim

Sawyer noted two domestic violence myths that security professionals must squash at work:

  1. We can only help them at work. This is false, as there are many opportunities outside of the workplace to provide assistance. For example, he said, if a victim has a no contact order of protection against a perpetrator, security can help the victim to renew the protection order, provide security reports, provide the victim with a police report, run the background on the perpetrator for the victim and call 911 every time it is violated.
  2. Domestic violence victim support is largely a Human Resources area. This is false because it can fall on security for escorts or for transportation, so it’s a dual effort.

He also communicated the five common and costly mistakes organizations make with regards to domestic violence:

  1. They don’t document.
  2. They don’t call the police.
  3. They minimize the potential for violence.
  4. They do not share information with supervisors.
  5. They don’t follow up with a victim.

Sawyer also discussed several warning signs that a staff member may be in crisis, and this information needs to be communicated to the security team: 

  1. Obvious injuries such as bruises, black eyes, broken bones and hearing loss, often attributed to “falls”, “being clumsy” or “accidents”.
  2. Clothing that is inappropriate for the season, such as long sleeves and turtlenecks, as well as wearing sunglasses and heavy makeup.
  3. Uncharacteristic absenteeism or lateness for work.
  4. Change in job performance, including poor concentration, errors, slowness and inconsistent work quality.
  5. Change in appearance and self-esteem.
  6. Need for increased supervision.
  7. Uncharacteristic signs of anxiety and fear.
  8. Requests for special accommodations, such as leaving early.
  9. Isolation – including unusual quietness or keeping away from others.
  10. Minimization and denial of harassment or injuries.   

View the webinar here