Domestic violence is one of the most urgent issues facing Spokane.
A new report published by Women Helping Women Fund shows domestic violence is on the rise in Spokane County—a reason for true concern considering rates recorded in 2019 were already the highest in our state.
While domestic violence may seem like a private matter, often happening at home behind closed doors, its reverberations extend far beyond the confines of home. I know this because I’ve seen its impact firsthand at our Providence hospitals and clinics.
Tragedy Close to Home
In April 2019, Patty Hernandez was murdered by her boyfriend. Patty was a beloved Providence caregiver, known for her kindness, cheerful smile, and dedication to serving others. Her death sent shockwaves through our organization and across the community.
This tragedy provoked discussions about our need to know how to identify domestic violence and respond in support of survivors. Through an annual Providence Community Benefit grant program, Providence awarded funding to the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition—also known as the local chapter of the End the Violence Coalition—to create the Domestic Violence Toolkit.
This free training resource provides local businesses and organizations with the necessary tools to respond effectively and compassionately to domestic violence incidents. The toolkit also helps create workplace policies for domestic violence response. We urge other businesses and organizations to seize this opportunity for education as we strive to combat this epidemic together.
Domestic violence, defined by violence between family and household members, has risen steadily in recent years. The number of reported domestic violence offenses per 1,000 people in Spokane County has climbed to 14.2 in 2020 from 10.4 in 2016, far surpassing the state average of 7.2, according to Our Girls: State of Women and Children 2.0 report.
The repercussions extend far beyond physical harm. According to that same report, survivors face an increased risk of homelessness, mental health issues, emotional trauma, and death. In 2021 alone, local law enforcement recorded four domestic violence-related homicides.
Our Girls: State of Women and Children 2.0 report details that in 2021, domestic violence was responsible for 594 hospitalizations in Spokane County, resulting in an estimated $12 million in medical expenses. According to the report, half of these hospitalizations involved children under the age of 18, an alarming reality highlighting the vulnerability of the younger generation.
American Indian, Alaska Native, and Black residents were disproportionately affected, being up to three times more likely than white people to be hospitalized due to domestic violence.
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Despite how common domestic violence is, in Spokane and across the nation, 65% of companies don’t have a formal workplace domestic violence prevention policy, and only 20% offer training on domestic violence, according to a Society for Human Resource Management study.
This is concerning given that 21% of full-time employed adults reported experiencing domestic violence, with 74% of that group stating they have been harassed at work, according to SHRM.
The challenge for many organizations was where to go for resources and how to manage support services for training, education, and response.
I’m glad we now have training and tools in place to help our Inland Northwest businesses and organizations.
About the Toolkit
The Domestic Violence Toolkit offers three lesson programs that are designed for employers, managers, and human resources. There are additional lessons designed to help management develop domestic violence policies for their workplace. Videos, reading materials, glossaries, and other interactive components make learning engaging for participants.
Through this free program, employers can invest in their workforce and connect with local experts to take proactive steps to address domestic violence, such as implementing a formal policy, training staff, and supporting employees impacted by domestic violence.
The training can be accessed online, in person, or through a combination of both. Go to www.endtheviolencespokane.org and press on “Toolkit” to access the training portal.
Call to Action
Patty’s story reminds us that domestic violence can impact anyone and any organization. The heartbreaking reality is, there are many people in our workplaces across the Inland Northwest who are experiencing violence at home. This is a prevalent problem that requires us to be proactive to create a safe and supportive workplace.
Business owners, managers, and nonprofit leaders are uniquely positioned to make a difference. Many people spend just as much time at work, if not more, than they do at home. And that is why it is so important that we all do more to learn the signs of domestic violence, understand how to support survivors, and create policies that help end the cycle of abuse.
We encourage businesses and organizations across the Inland Northwest to learn more about the Domestic Violence Toolkit and consider bringing this education to your employees.
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of survivors and help end the violence.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there is help available 24/7. Call the confidential YWCA Spokane helpline at 509.326.2255, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or text 509.220.3725. For North Idaho, call Safe Passage helpline at 208.664.9303, email email@example.com, or text 208.449.7228.
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