Domestic violence affects one in four women. Sadly, Oklahoma is ranked sixth in the nation in the number of women murdered by men. This epidemic affects people of all demographics and communities, extending from the home to the workplace.
Oklahoma recently dropped from third to sixth in the national ranking, but domestic violence is still prevalent. Employers, including both the state of Oklahoma and Verizon, have a very real stake in protecting their employees from this scourge. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity in the workplace from domestic violence at more than $7 million. More than 74 percent of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while at work. The side effects of domestic violence in the workplace alone translate to 8 million days of paid work lost each year.
Everyone can help change the current path of domestic violence in the workplace by simply discussing domestic violence among coworkers, friends and family. Businesses should be encouraged to recognize signs of domestic violence, have programs in place or partner with an advocate agency for resources.
The governor has named October “Domestic Violence Awareness” month in Oklahoma, and October 8 will be “Wear Purple Day” to raise awareness for domestic violence victims. All Oklahomans are invited to not only wear purple on that day, but to talk about the issue with friends and coworkers.
For Verizon, preventing domestic violence is a cause that hits close to home. The company lost three employees this year due to domestic violence.
It’s important that we have resources for victims. That is why Verizon created its HopeLine program long ago. HopeLine puts Verizon technology and its substantial wireless network resources to work in communities by collecting no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories, from any carrier, and repurposing them as a safe line for victims.
Since HopeLine was founded in 2001, Verizon has distributed more than 190,000 phones with more than 543 million free wireless minutes and 298 million texts as a safe backup to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, Verizon has awarded more than $29 million in grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country, several of which are here in Oklahoma.
For the month of October, please consider participating in promoting awareness in your workplace by donating used cell phones and accessories to one of the multiple HopeLine drives. Contact your local district attorney or domestic violence agency to learn more about resources for victims or to view a screening of Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary that details the life of a Verizon employee who was killed as she tried to leave her abusive relationship.
Mary Fallin is the Governor of Oklahoma and Kristi Crum is the president of Verizon Oklahoma