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Domestic violence: hidden workplace issue

09 October 2013

Domestic violence: hidden workplace issue

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Business is yet to wake up to the issue of domestic violence and how it can support employees who are victims.

"If it were not for my employer, I would not be alive today," says Melissa Morbeck, calmly. She is living proof that educating employers about domestic violence works. When she fled her husband, who had been beating her for years, she was a high-flying young executive in New York. Hospital admissions, miscarriages, and never breathing a word to anyone, had all become normal. Taking an overnight train to California with only $50 in her pocket and an assumed name, she began a new life as a secretary in an advertising agency. Realising something was wrong, her new employer helped her to open up. And in doing so, started the next chapter in her life.

Morbeck now lives in the UK and, after a successful career in advertising, heads up the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV). It is the only national or local organisation that works specifically with employers on domestic violence. Her daily routine includes meeting blank faces who wonder why domestic violence is an employer issue. But they don't stay blank for long.

One in four women and one in six men will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. If that statistic appears high, then the following should be considered: the British Crime Survey of 2010/11 found that 7% of women and 5% of men aged 16 to 59 were victims of domestic abuse in that one year alone (PDF). Across an adult lifetime, that will be an awful lot more. Two women a week are killed by their current or ex-partners in the UK.

For full story please visit: The Guardian