by Chris Mountzouris
Perhaps you knew this already, but I didn’t: 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That means that when I think of my world of friends and family, odds are that someone I know has experienced relationship abuse.
That circle is about to become bigger as my startup company grows, and I hire more employees. There are many intangible things that go along with employment to not only attract quality individuals, but also to retain them. Workplace culture is a big one, and while some might focus on the mundane tangibles like free soda and specialty coffees, I want to focus on developing a productive and safe environment, one that helps to address the needs of employees beyond the standards of salary and benefits.
With the growing odds that one of my employees is or could be a victim of domestic abuse, I am grateful that there is an organization like The Hotline that I can lean on should one of my employees have a need to speak to someone.
I was introduced to The Hotline through my wife’s professional relationship with the organization, and I have taken it upon myself to learn about this epidemic. Primarily, I want to be sure that I can identify when one of my staff members might be experiencing domestic abuse, so that I can connect them with this invaluable organization that has shown me what to look for that someone may be in an abusive relationship.
KNOW THE SIGNS
Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:
- Tells you that you can never do anything right
- Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
- Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
- Controls every penny spent in the household
- Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
- Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
- Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Prevents you from making your own decisions
- Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
- Prevents you from working or attending school
- Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
I have also learned that abuse is not just physical. There are other forms of abuse including:
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse & Coercion
- Reproductive Coercion
- Financial Abuse
- Digital Abuse
As I will depend on my employees to help the company grow, the least that I can do is be counted upon to help them in times of crisis. The Hotline has better prepared me to deal with any issues of domestic abuse that may arise for any of my employees, first by helping to identify, and then to be a resource to address those issues should the employee wish to seek help.
You deserve to live free of abuse. The Hotline provides immediate assistance to anyone affected by relationship violence, including survivors, perpetrators and friends and family who are trying to help. Support can be found by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also visit their website at https://www.thehotline.org and chat with an advocate online.
Chris Mountzouris is a writer, business owner, husband, and stepfather to his wife’s 16-year-old daughter. He lives in Texas and has volunteered for the National Domestic Violence Hotline as a strategic advisor.