Webinar presenter Mark Warren answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Domestic Violence Comes to Work: Signs, Symptoms, and Response. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Sabrina asks; how do you find a balance between protecting a domestic violence victim’s privacy and safety with the need to protect other co-workers and staff from collateral violence?
Mark Warren: Sabrina, that’s a great question. It’s a difficult question, right? This is where I’m going to really encourage you to reach out to true experts in the field because there are things that you have to look at as. I wish that you know being in a longer deal, one of the things there was a video that I looked at that literally was showing some really good examples is how a first-line supervisor can approach an employee that may be suffering from domestic violence. It’s how sometimes you word the questions so that you don’t overstep those bounds, but it could be something as simple as, and Sabrina I’ll use your name as an example, “Sabrina, I’d like to talk to you and I just want to tell you, you’ve always been an exceptional employee but as of late, I really noticed that you’re tardy on a regular basis. You’ve not called in and you missed work. Is there something going on that I can help you with? If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me, I can direct you to our employee assistance program and I would love to do that because I don’t want to lose you as a valued employee. At the same time, I need you to be aware that your actions are causing us a real problem and it’s disrupting the workplace.” It’s difficult but you’re showing them I care and I value you as an employee but how am I going to get them to want to feel confident. One of the things I didn’t mention is this part of the training in this domestic violence issue is to train employees to understand the victim and two, not to gossip. That only does more harm to prevent someone from being willing to come forward to share this private information if they believe people are going to gossip about it. So it’s got to be kept confidential but also as an employee if I have a friend that I know is being abused. I also need to go to my direct line supervisor or somebody else and let them know. Hey, I just need to tell you, I was talking to Mary and I don’t know what’s going on but she’s being abused at home. Well, at least now, you know, there are some things that you can do that if I now call Mary, can kind of take that same approach and just say, you know Mary I don’t want to pry but I’ve heard from several employees that maybe there are some things going on and I don’t want to pry but if there’s some assistance that you need, I can put you in touch with our employee assistance program and they can maybe help you through that. Or if there are some things that are really going on that you need some time away from work maybe there are some things that we can help you with. If they do self-report they are a victim of domestic violence, you may have an advocate in your organization that can help them obtain orders of protection and actually escort them to the appropriate places and walks them through the processes, which I think is one of those things that we have to start looking at in our workplace to be able to be a support network as well because it is our own community.
Audience Question: We often talk about the victim of domestic violence, but do offenders also target the friends and colleagues of the victim because they potentially have heard so much about these people and maybe become jealous?
Mark Warren: I’m not going to say that no, that’s not the case. What I do know typically is when you look at the psychology of let’s say, a mass shooter when these things start they start with the victim, that’s who the direct grievances against. You’ve left me. You faulted me. I’m going to come to you. I’m going to take your life away from you. But also you have to keep in mind that this abuse or understand that once this thing starts, he’s always blaming other people for his own failures. This is a failure in itself. He was the abuser he was in control of that situation. She’s moved on and now I’m going to come and make her pay for it. Well, he also views these other people as collateral damage, but he also knows that hey once this thing starts I’ve got nothing to lose. I hate everybody. The psychology piece, we use a paper written by Lieutenant Modal with New York Police Department and he did it as his white paper for his master’s thesis. It was on the psychology of an active killer. I believe he’s spot on. These people blame society for their own failures so they hate everybody, and once this thing starts they know that they’re not going to survive in prison. They want to go out on the high side, kill as many people as possible because their view has always been I’m the victim. They are the victimizer. I want to become the victimizer so now I need to victimize everyone that I can. If that makes sense. It just carries over to collateral damage in and around those people. I think it could be that yeah, there are some targeted people that may be tried to help this person and maybe the victim had said well Mary I told her about what’s going on and now he sees as Mary the potential threat against him as well. So I’m not going to say no, but I think generally they hate any and all.
Audience Question: I’m on a community threat team and am trying to sell my employer on the value of having a domestic violence policy and a culture of awareness. Do you have resources that she can access to sell the need and value of this to my administrator? So she doesn’t need domestic violence information but how do they sell it to their employers to management, to the leadership of an organization about the need to conduct those threat assessments.
Mark Warren: Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have specific resources, but I think she is going a long way towards what she’s trying to accomplish. One, how do I sell something? So, selling something is defining what the problem is like we did today, and now what do they need to do? So again look at their motivation what’s going to motivate them to want to take the time because time equals money, in order to take the steps necessary to do this? I would say keep digging into it. It’s in the handout and there are all of those links are there to the different source documents that I used throughout that. I would look at just workplace violence in general where you’re talking billion dollars a year lost to the workplace as a result of workplace violence. So when you start breaking it down, there’s – I don’t have it right in front of me, but I also know it talks about 50% in lost productivity after a major incident. Well, if you’re a manufacturing facility in Europe 100% capacity, but you have a mass incident at your location. Now, you’re shut down for two weeks. Do you have a relocation plan in place on where you’re going to move your processing so that you don’t have to close down for two weeks when it cost you 50,000 dollars an hour to close your facility down and you operate 24 hours a day? How much revenue are you going to lose because you don’t have a continuity process in place? What’s it going to cost now when those employees do come back but because we haven’t protected them from workplace violence and educated and prepared them that we’re going to suffer a 50% productivity rate? So, now even though we’re back open will only producing 50 percent because the employees are so afraid of being at work that they are not focused on the job. Unfortunately, sometimes the best way to get someone to buy into it is to show them the numbers. This is what it potentially could cost you. The hard thing is when you look at workplace violence, you have the hard numbers that we can show from past incidents but you also have the unknowns. What does it do to your name brand recognition? Even though your company may have been the victim of the incident that you’re now in the 24/7 news cycle so that six months from now, the only thing that people remember is your name and it’s equated to something negative that happened. The only way to get on the front side of that is to be prepared. To be prepared is to do exactly what she is discussing and if they actually have a team that she’s on, they’ve taken a good step forward. Now, it’s figuring out what are those numbers to really show them? The second way that I say to do it is I call it leading from the bottom, by starting to work with other people within the organization to educate them so that it spreads and before long the demand comes from the bottom up. We need this training. We need to know what this is. How are you going to keep us safe? You got to be careful because that can backfire on you but I’ve seen it used quite frequently to a pretty good effect.
Audience Question: How do you recommend dealing with an agency and co-workers who are using emotional violence and tactics towards you?
Mark Warren: One I would talk to you know – keep in mind if it’s a workplace-related deal when they’re doing it to you, you know that that’s kind of bullying in the workplace and there are mechanisms. You can report. One I would use your EPA system and talk to a counselor. Secondly. You can also talk to OSHA. There are reporting hotlines that you can use and literally make and file a grievance that one put them on notice to do that. It’s again, sometimes I kind of have a feeling and I will not say it but I have a feeling I probably know what background she is in and many times in men dominated fields, there’s all still a lot of old blood there where you know women maybe don’t belong in this field is the perception, that sometimes those attitudes can come through. I would start maybe looking at OSHA. Again, off-the-cuff it’s hard for me to remember some of those because that’s not my really my expertise. But if she wants to email me again, my email is listed in that handout. She can directly email me and we can kind of talk about that and I can see if I can come up with some of those other resources that might be of assistance.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Domestic Violence Comes to Work: Signs, Symptoms, and Response.