Archive for category Domestic violence

Women’s Personal Safety: The Unwanted Hug

Women’s Personal Safety: The Unwanted Hug


Have you ever found yourself wrapped in a hug you didn’t want, but didn’t know what to do about it?

I certainly have, and it made me feel angry, resentful, and outraged!,

Whether on campus, at work, or just socializing, unwanted hugging seems to affect almost all women and girls – and many men – at some point.

Yet, few of us know what to do in the moment, because it’s weird, and we don’t want to be “rude.”

Many of us, especially women and girls, are socialized to accept hugs without question – ignoring the fact that sometimes hugs are aggression posing as affection. That teaches us that we do not own our bodies, and leaves us more vulnerable to harassment and sexual assault. Therefore, our personal safety strategies are paramount.

You might say that unwanted hugging is a “gateway drug” to escalating physical contact. “Pick up artists” use hugging as a “compliance test” to determine how vulnerable a woman will be to his particular brand of manipulation.

The fact that unwanted hugs may or may not be done with ill intent, hiding under a veil of plausible deniability, and rely on you to “be polite” makes us feel … oddly powerless.

Having strategies at the ready helps immensely, as opposed to trying to think of something in the moment.

A Direct “NO” is A-OK.

You alone own your body, and you alone decide who gets hugs or not, according to how you feel in that moment.  It’s perfectly ok to tell someone, “I don’t want a hug, thanks,” or “I’d prefer to shake hands,” or “Let’s just wave from here!”

It is the other person’s job, not yours, to manage how they feel about that.

You don’t owe anyone a justification, so if you’re met with objections or entreaties, calmly stand your ground with an answer such as, “It’s just my preference.”  “I’m not a hugging sort of person.”  “I’d rather shake hands.”  “I would prefer not to.”

But if you don’t feel comfortable or safe giving a direct “No,” try this instead:

Stick out your arm for a hearty handshake.

Add a cheery “So nice to see (or meet) you!”

Take a step back and angle your body if you have room.

Most people will get the message and react accordingly.  However, if the hugger is tone deaf, but you need to let that person save face, try:

Handshake + Conversational Pivot

Your pivot may sound like this: “Sorry, I’m maxed out on hugs today – but tell me about your new project – it sounds so interesting!” or, “Hey, you know what?  I’m all hugged out from my new puppy!  Do you want to see a photo?”  “Oh, sorry, my little nephew got all my hugs already. Speaking of which, what is a Pokemon?” The point is, always have a few rehearsed sound bites at the ready. Use whatever works for you and go with it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

This method distracts the other person and glosses over any uneasiness.

If someone drags you into a hug anyway, making you uncomfortable, your job is to make your discomfort clear, and redirect it back to the offender.

“HEY!  I said NO HUGS!”

“OW!  You’re pulling my hair!”

“OUCH! You’re hurting my neck!”  (because you have a little crick in it, of course)

“HEY!  You’re hurting my sunburn!”

You might *accidentally* step on his feet — because he pulled you off balance with the unwanted hug, right?

Some people will always ignore boundaries and go in for the hug in spite of your objections.  That is valuable information: This person is not to be trusted.

This is someone to avoid.  This is someone to keep a wary eye on, even if you’re acquainted or “friends.”  This is someone who will not take “No” for an answer.  This is someone to warn your friends about.

Never let social conventions or fear of feeling awkward get in the way of your bodily integrity and security.
Your personal safety always come before someone else’s feelings.

– Jennifer Kaminer, 27 March 2017

Related: Your Daughter’s Campus Safety and Security: 3 Tips

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Women’s Personal Safety on Campus

Young women, aged 18-24, attending college, are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than the general population.

According to RAINN, 23.1 percent of female students experience rape or sexual assault via physical force, violence, or incantation.

That’s a little over one in 5 young women … and those are only the ones we know of.  The real number is much higher.

This is why addressing women’s personal safety on campus is paramount.

It is imperative that we inform our daughters what they’re really up against — and how to better protect themselves.

Common sense tips such as “use the buddy system” and “don’t walk home alone at night” are valuable and have their place. However, those tips ignore the fact that, according to the University of Michigan, most sexual assaults are committed by someone we already know and trust, and most assaults happen in familiar surroundings. Hence, the term “Acquaintance Rape.”

Most young woman and their parents find this fact counterintuitive, but once they understand it, are able to put in place powerful strategies to not become another statistic.

Remember, the mind is the most powerful weapon.

When you change your “mental setting” from “prey” to “powerful” – that energy permeates though your body language, and shows up as confidence and strength.

Use your mind, body language, and strategy to develop “command presence” – this will broadcast to the world that you are not an easy target, which is the best deterrent against opportunistic, predatory fellow students and acquaintances,who are the most common offenders!! (Think: Entitled Frat Boys!)

We know the buddy system is always recommended, but the larger the group, the better.  Go out together, and come home together.  Leave no one behind.  At parties or events, agree to check in with each other at pre-determined times. Use the buddy system when going to the bathroom, or to retrieve a coat from a back room. Why? This how a lone young woman gets dragged into a room and assaulted.

What is your plan if you think you or a friend have been drugged?  Do you have a pre-determined “distress code” to alert the other members of your group?  Have you rehearsed the power of your numbers, and the strength of your loud voices together to create a scene that would deter anyone with bad intent?

Walking home at night will happen.  But again, walk in a group. Carry yourselves with confident presence and scan your surroundings – just two of several presentations that victim selection studies reveal you as “harder targets.”

Don’t be shy to ask TWO trusted young men within your peer group to walk with you – but don’t let your guard down.

There is no one magic bullet that will keep you or your young woman 100% safe on campus.  But the more strategies you put in place, the safer you will all be.

Parents, you should all know what the Cleary Act is, and why it is so critical in choosing a school that is entrusted with your daughter’s safety.

– Jennifer Kaminer, 9 February 2017


Women’s Safety On Campus: Live Webinar Training 

Women’s Personal Safety and Male-Encoded Language

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Workplace Violence Prevention and OSHA Directives

This guest blog contributed by strategic partner and workplace violence and security consultant, Felix Nater of Nater Associates, LTD with offices in  North Carolina and New York.


New OSHA Directive Tackles Workplace Violence Concerns…What Are You Doing About It?

In the last 15 years, deaths resulting from workplace violence have ranked among the top four causes of occupational fatalities in American workplaces. In response to this serious threat to worker safety, OSHA released a new compliance directive on Sept. 8. 2010 that offers procedures for agency staff who respond to workplace violence cases or complaints. Caution is always recommended in assuming that compliance is prevention. If you don’t educate compliance merely becomes another checklist.


While incidents of Workplace Homicides are down, incidents of non violent acts have increased. Workplaces should not only look at the homicidal reasons for why employee might “go postal’ but for contributing factors and the unintentional consequences of workplace policies and the unknown risks of such overlooked threats committed by non violent employees (harassment, sabotage to systems and operations, product contamination, theft of sensitive information, compromise of proprietary information, theft of services, identity theft, work slow down etc., etc.,).


Recent acts of defiance by non violent people are your employees. Such behavior gives rise for concern in our workplaces from groups who might resort to non violent act of retaliation as described above.  Do not make the assumption that just because the defiance is focused on the financial community or away from the workplace that, the frustrations of victimization at large can’t find their way into the workplaces. When it comes to justification and rationale, I have seen the gamut in terms of the behavior and reasoning.


Workplace Violence Prevention Policies and Plans can better serve the workplace in identifying potential contributing factors and at risk situations through collaboration and integration of resources.  Violent prone employees become so by their workplace, environmental and societal experiences or perhaps even changes in their mental well being. The lead-in to acts of homicidal vengeance is a methodical choice that, I think is based on their brand of rationale and justification. Exploiting workplaces by the non violent employee doesn’t involve decisions of life and death but ones of retribution and retaliation against organizations that have the financial capability to withstand the threat. The non violent threat can become more destructive if the rationale is tied to the businesses capability to withstand the risks.


Take the implementation of Workplace Violence Prevention and Security Awareness seriously. Begin the process by conducting thoughtful workplace risk assessments. The assessment should include security and business practices alike. Include employees in the process by utilizing surveys that attempt to uncover signs of disgruntled behavior or conditions exacerbated by supervision and management business practices. Reduce existing security gaps in your current operations. Institute countermeasures that provide as early warning signals of problems on the rise. Support employee victims and complaints who come forward. Aggressive monitor and respond to employee hotline or complaint lines. Create an impression that the leadership cares,


Don’t assume that non violent acts of workplace violence will not rise to a level of concern because you will find yourself asking why you didn’t take preemptive measures early on. Know that this threat’s capability is unknown but devastating in terms of impact on many; including the organization’s production, perform standing and reputation along the way.


Take the following 10 steps NOW to minimize your risks and identify contributory practices and procedures:

– Be proactive.

– Implement credible reporting systems.

– Educate supervisors and managers on recognizing at risk situations.

– Conduct a thorough workplace violence risk assessment.

– Review existing security management and emergency preparedness measures.

– Evaluate the effectiveness of your emergency evacuation plans.

– Train your workforce on the consequences of violent and non-violent acts.

– Hold all employees accountable and responsible for engaging in or failing to report at risk situations.

– Conduct annual facility and employee assessments.

– Include workplace violence prevention in your New Employee Orientations.


Felix Nater

  • 516-285-8484


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Stop Signs. A Domestic Violence Resource


I had the opportunity to read Stop Signs authored by my friend Lynn Fairweather who is a threat assessment and domestic violence expert. As a personal safety trainer and consultant and father of two daughters, I was particularly eager to read this book and share the “golden nuggets” with them and those I interact with on a professional level.


I found this book to be well balanced. While I have read several books on domestic violence, I have never seen one as comprehensive as Stop Signs. The book is segmented into three equal parts devoted to recognizing, avoiding, and escaping dating / domestic abuse and violence. It therefore applies to all women: those who have never been abused, those who are currently being abused, and those that have left an abuser.


This book serves as a resource, a safety plan, and offers self-help empowerment all in one. It is an intuitive read and also gives voice to survivors in dialog boxes that are strategically placed to drive home the teachable moments.  This style is in keeping with Lynn’s “lived experience” as she too is a survivor of domestic violence and is therefore able to bring a personal as well as a professional perspective to the topic.


Who should read this book and keep it on the shelf as a domestic violence resource? Anyone from a mother with young daughters, to someone in an abusive relationship all the way over to a threat assessment / security professional or HR personal in the corporate sector.


The book is available at Amazon.

Lynn is the founder and president of Presage Consulting & Training, an Oregon based organization specializing in fatality reduction through threat assessment and management.

Lynn’s contact details appear below.


Lynn Fairweather, M.S.W.

Presage Consulting and Training

Portland, OR

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Partner Violence as a Workplace Issue. Some Stats, Facts & Policy Suggestions

We want to thank Kim Wells,  Executive Director of The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence for providing us with this informative blog entry.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence  is a national nonprofit organization founded by businesses with a mission to address domestic violence as a workplace issue.

Below are some very sobering statistics and facts on the troubling issue of partner violence and its impact on the individual and workforce.

What can you as an employer do and where should you start? At the bottom of this article you will find a link to the “six steps” that the Corporate Alliance suggest for creating a successful domestic violence in the workplace policy. (PDF Format)

So how does domestic violence impact the workplace?

Here’s some insight from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • In February of 2008, the CDC released the most comprehensive US survey regarding intimate partner violence – 23.6% of women and 11.5% of men reported at least one lifetime episode of intimate-partner violence.
  • According to the CDC, intimate partner violence victims lose a total of nearly 8.0 million days of paid work a year—the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs—and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of the violence.
  • The cost of domestic violence to the US economy is more than $8.3 billion. This cost includes medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity (e.g., time away from work).

And some additional insights into productivity losses:

  • Researchers from the University of Arkansas found that women who were victims of recent domestic violence had 26 percent more time lost to tardiness and absenteeism than non-victims.

If you think that this does not happen to people who work, think again.  The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence did a national survey of full-time employed adults, and found the following:

  • 21% of the full-time employed adults polled identified themselves as victims of domestic violence; 64% percent of them indicated their ability to work was significantly impacted
  • 31% of co-workers felt obliged to cover for a co-worker who as a victim; 38% of co-workers were concerned for their own safety

What about abusers? The Maine Department of Labor found that:

  • 78% of surveyed perpetrators used workplace resources to express remorse or anger, check up on, pressure, or threaten their victim
  • 74% had easy access to their intimate partner’s workplace
  • 21% of offenders reported they contacted the victim  at the workplace

And why is it that victims don’t just leave?

  • In cases of homicide related to domestic violence; 75% of the time it is when the victim is leaving or has left the abuser. This means leaving is potentially VERY dangerous for a victim—a victim who may be your employee.

What about workplace safety?

  • Domestic violence coming to the workplace accounts for 24% of workplace violence incidents (BLS, October 2006)

So why should employers care about this? If you haven’t already gotten the sense (and there is more information available in the Facts and Stats section of our website):

  • It is an absenteeism issue
  • It is a productivity issue
  • It is a turnover issue
  • It is a presenteeism issue (this means you are present, but not really focused and able to work)
  • It is a workplace safety issue

And who in your workplace is potentially impacted by domestic violence coming to work?

  • Victim
  • Abusive person
  • Co-worker
  • Manager
  • Family member

So what can an employer do?

There are the “six steps” that we suggest at the Corporate Alliance for creating a successful domestic violence in the workplace policy. Click here to take you to our site from which you many download the PDF.

Kim Wells may be reached at 1-309-664-0667 or email her at

Additional Resources:

Eastside Domestic Violence Program(Greater Seattle Area)

Human Resource Essential