The numbers are daunting if not outright horrifying: One in 4 women in the United States are in a dangerous relationship.

Homicide is the number one cause of death for women in the workplace. The United States has an entrenched, dark and endemic history of domestic violence.  Consider Eric Blumberg and his compelling 2016 commentary. 

“Since 2000 there have been approximately 3,300 Americans killed on our soil as a direct result of domestic terrorism.  However, since 2000 there have been approximately 20,000 women who have been killed as a direct result of domestic violence.  It’s funny how using the word terrorism, elicits great sympathy and resolve when the word, violence, is substituted the silence can be, at times deafening.”

Security professionals may not be able to change, enlighten, or civilize a culture to the damning realities of domestic violence. However, we can be, and need to be, both advocates and activists at work in safeguarding our employees who may be at risk. Outlined are some basic things enterprise security professionals can do to support the victims of domestic violence. They include:

  1. Acknowledge the scope of the problem.
  2. Learn the scope of the problem.
  3. Develop a “zero incidents” philosophy and policy towards domestic violence.
  4. Build mutual aid agreements with both local hotels, locksmiths, and private security contractors – detectives. This is the ecosystem of care you can build that will protect your employee.
  5. Trespass a perpetrator. Create a policy for no tolerance and prevent access to your building or campus.
  6. Write the perpetrator. List yourself as sole contact or security.
  7. Disseminate the perpetrators picture of himself and his car at all entrances.
  8. Run a background check on the perpetrator. Use it to inform and infuse your actions and duty of care.
  9. Arrange special transportation for your staff i.e. taxi, bus, or limo if needed.
  10. Assist your staff with a car rental.
  11. Travel to court with your staff to get orders of protection.  Provide transportation.
  12. Share information with law enforcement.
  13. Educate your staff by providing access to domestic violence advocate information.
  14. Work closely with Human Resources on all planning.
  15. Learn the perpetrators profession. Study their work schedule including their days off.
  16. Pre-arrange emergency shelter if an employee is leaving an abuser.
  17. Consider assigning one-on-one security to the victim for a duration of time.
  18. Learn the victim’s work schedule and have their cell number and emergency contact number.
  19. Keep a copy of your order of protection.
  20. Check in with the staff weekly or as needed.
  21. Be proactive.
  22. Attempt to develop a relationship with a perpetrator if they contact you.
  23. Insure parking lot escorts for your staff both arriving and departing.
  24. Hold/schedule domestic violence awareness training annually, at minimum, with all staff.
  25. Become an educator for all staff.

We must take domestic violence seriously. It is critical to protect the abused employee, the workplace from violent intrusion, and the company’s organization and brand. But, we are also stewards of risk, resilience and security for our communities and nation. Most security professionals have not considered a comprehensive support plan for victims of domestic violence. We can collectively change this. We can “scratch that surface”, i.e., turn the rock over and take the steps needed to both insure the safety of a valued employee and, perhaps in our own way, begin to engage and shape our culture… and change the world.

Jim Sawyer is Director of Security for Seattle Children’s Hospital