By Madeline Abramson and Eleanor Jordan
State government offices across Kentucky are serving as collection sites for wireless phones, tablets and accessories no longer in use during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an effort to reduce the number of domestic violence incidents that move into the workplace.
The devices collected by the Kentucky Commission on Women Statewide HopeLine Drive will be turned into a cash grant for WorkSafe, which provides domestic-violence prevention training for Kentucky businesses.
Workers dealing with domestic abuse are often afraid to tell their employers, for fear they will be fired by a boss who thinks letting them go will prevent the violence from spreading to the jobsite.
Other victims may worry about the consequences of poor job performance, a realistic concern given a study by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), which found 64 percent of affected workers believe the abuse they face at home hinders them at work.
It's no surprise that these employees may be worried abusers will visit unexpectedly, concerned about frequent absences and tardiness, or suffering following a recent beating.
Many Kentucky businesses recognize that removing domestic-abuse survivors is not the right answer for either their employees or their bottom lines. According to CAEPV, 21 percent of full-time employed adults were victims. Moreover, the cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy was estimated at $8.3 billion a decade ago.
Yet, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, of the 30 percent of U.S. workplaces with formal workplace-violence policies, only 44 percent address domestic violence.
WorkSafe is a response to these statistics. A collaborative program of KCW, Kentucky State Police and The Mary Byron Project, it helps businesses of all sizes create safer workplaces while reducing the economic, legal and productivity risks associated with domestic violence.
Through the HopeLine from Verizon program, Verizon Wireless has given HopeLine grants totaling more than $100,000. The company hopes to add significantly to that amount after this month's drive.
The goal is to collect 3,500 devices — one for every adult and child who spent the night in a domestic-violence shelter in Kentucky last year.
So open your junk drawer and pull out the smartphones you've upgraded over the years. Check your desks and closets for chargers, cases and other accessories. Then drop them off in a HopeLine collection box at the nearest state agency or Verizon Wireless corporate store.
If you don't have a store near you, email email@example.com, and we will arrange to get your donation. Help us make workplaces safer for all, especially those trying to escape abuse at home.