When a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrives at the front desk, some business managers might be pleased to see an employee, usually a woman, receive recognition from a friend or loved one. They might even hand-deliver the flowers to the employee themselves, never realizing the actual, perhaps sinister message intended by the gift.
"It's a simple gesture to say, 'I'm watching you and I know you are there,' " said Lonnie Chavez, Grand Junction police sergeant and expert on domestic violence.
Abusers can show up at the workplace to harass and intimidate their victims in ways employers might never suspect, Chavez said.
Driving by the office, hang-up telephone calls to the receptionist, sitting in the section of a restaurant where their victim is working, all of these could be a sign that an employee is being abused, he said.
Roughly two million women and 800,000 men are victims of assaults by intimate partners each year, according to a report by the Partnership for Prevention conducted in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C.
Though most of these assaults occur outside a victim's place of employment, domestic abuse still rears its ugly head in the workplace, according to the report.
"We see it almost on a daily basis," Chavez said.
Problems resulting from domestic violence with impact on the workplace include "absenteeism, inability to focus, poor self-esteem, low productivity and low morale," the report said.
A recent study commissioned by Liz Claiborne, Inc., showed 40 percent of senior corporate executives were personally aware of employees and other individuals who were affected by domestic violence, said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber will offer a 90-minute workshop for employers on the practical aspects of domestic violence victim assistance in the workplace Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the chamber's lower-level briefing room.
In addition to Chavez, representatives of Latimer House, an area safe house for victims of abuse, will be on hand to provide practical advice on a social issue that has a direct impact on the workplace, Schwenke said.
■ How to talk to employees about domestic violence;
■ Resources available to employees who may be victims;
■ Domestic violence leave for employees;
■ Inclusion of businesses in protective orders.
Reservations for the workshop and printed materials can be requested online at www.gjchamber.org or by calling 242-3214.