Archive for category Domestic violence

Front Desk Professionals Personal Safety Awareness Training

security-camsHow many times have you heard, “I just cover the front desk at my job.”

Please stop describing yourselves this way.  You are professionals who have a lot more responsibilities and tasks than meet the eye.

In the hospitality industry, you are the name and face of the brand you represent. In business settings, you are the first point of contact tasked with making a desirable first impression, while being assertive, yet friendly, and maintaining control of your lobby.

You are expert multitaskers. While signing people in and printing visitor’s badges, you are keeping an eye on the front door, the hallway to the restrooms, buzzing in the mail delivery clerk and authenticating service providers. On top of that, you’re often also tasked with monitoring the CCTV security system!

Behind your welcoming professional smile, you have overwatch on access control and security.  You deal with difficult people, and are first in line with regard to situations and threats that most other people in your building aren’t even aware of.

Unfortunately, personal safety and situational awareness training for front desk professionals is often overlooked.  This may be due a lack of appreciation for the responsibilities front desk professionals attend to daily; it may be an oversight; it may be due to complacency or high staff turnover.

However, it is imperative that employers give the front desk staff the training they deserve and require.  Important things employers need to consider with regard to training include:

  • How will my front desk staff respond to a bomb threat? Will they evacuate immediately, or will they stay calm and ask for additional information that will be helpful to the police?
  • If violence erupts, will they attempt to intervene, or be a good witness and call police from a safe distance?
  • If a hostile intruder breaches the lobby, what is the game plan? Is there a Safe Room?
  • Domestic violence “spillover.” What is this, and how do you mitigate against it?
  • Someone attempts to “charm the front desk” into giving up private information. What does this look and sound like? What measures should your staff take?

These are just a few of the issues your front desk personnel must handle. Reminding them that they are, in fact, front desk professionals, and empowering them to take charge of their environment is fundamental.

These employees should always be trained and empowered to act confidently, professionally, and decisively.

Not only will your business run more smoothly, effectively, and safely – demonstrating respect and care for the safety of your front desk staff will almost always lead to a higher level of job satisfaction and less turnover at the position.






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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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Personal Safety: Dating Abuse and Dating Violence

During our training for young women in high school and college, I will often ask how many of them have boyfriends dom-violence2who:

  • Always rifles through their purses
  • Scroll through their call list and text messages.
  • Continuously call in to find out where they are, etc.
  • Convince them that a location sharing “emergency app” should be installed on their smart phones.

A predictable percentage of hands go up. What is disturbing is how few of these young ladies recognize these behaviors for what they are. But how could they?  Most have no frame of reference.

Additionally, most thought that these and other actions were signs of how much their boyfriend loved them. “He must love me. Look at how focused he is on me.”  And “It‘s only me he must care about.”

Once we explain these behaviors for what they really are, all the lights come on.  They now have a reference point.

This is when the other set of hands go up and young ladies start asking why their boyfriends:

  • Belittle them amongst friends
  • Marginalize the value of friends and family
  • Seem to want to cut them off from their friends and loved ones.  (To mention just a few)
  • Denigrate them only to soon flatter them and shower with gifts and affection

Once we get them to stop “compartmentalizing” , they begin to understand domestic violence or abuse is not the exclusive domain of married couples.

We remind them that in fact dating abuse and dating violence IS domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Knowledge and recognition of behaviors for what they are is a crucial first step. Strategy on how to deal with an abusive boyfriend is the next area we cover. This includes encouraging  dialog with parents and others close to the young lady at risk. … And most importantly of all, is that if a man hits you once he will hit you again.

  • We need  to remind our daughters that quite often what ends up as domestic violence within a marriage started out as dating abuse and violence long before vows were exchanged.
  • We all need to remind ourselves that dating and domestic abuse and violence are not always “other peoples problems” that  “happen somewhere else”. Denial will not make this problem go away.
  • We need to be proactive and empower our daughters with the knowledge to spot abuse and abuse pre-indicators early.
  • We need to continue to build their self esteem and confidence so that they may extricate themselves from a potentially negative relationship before the cycle of abuse sets in.

Domestic Violence/ Definitions

Dating Violence Statistics

National Coalitions Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

The Nicole Brown Foundation

Stephanie Angelo (SPHR) talks about the cost of domestic violence to companies (45 minute interview)


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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:

Human Resource Essential