©1999 - 2005
Edward D. Reuss
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By Richard L. Davis

William Jennings Bryan: "I do not think about the things that I do not think about."

Clarence Darrow: "Do you ever think about the things that you do think about."

The above epigram is from the movie version of the novel, "Inherit the Wind." We haven't talked about domestic violence a lot because of the first part. And even worse most of us are still stuck in the second part. If you don't want to think, don't read on. If you do, welcome to the disputation.

  It is understatement to state that the lack of agreement in seeking resolution to domestic violence has been caused in part by the lack of agreement in defining just what domestic violence is. Just as troubling is that much of what we read is colored or slanted by those in this disputation. Often the reader has trouble knowing if the information they are being presented with is fact, hypothesis, serious conjecture, imaginative speculation, or just ingenious deliberation. I would prefer the old TV show Dragnet approach, "Just the facts please." There can only be one truth. If two "truths" contradict each other, one of them is not true. There is only one truth. It is important that we know how to differentiate fact from fiction and I will write about that in a future column. And, surpassingly for some, it isn't that hard to tell fact from fiction or to understand what is true and what is false.

  And just as important I want to stick to the subject. However, there is something that I would like to mention briefly, and that is workplace violence. And yes I know that many of you believe that like domestic violence, workplace violence is just a lot of tree hugging mumbo-jumbo. The fact is that an average of 20 workers are murdered each week in the United States. In addition, an estimated 1 million workers are assaulted annually in the U.S. workplace. Clearly no single strategy will work in all locations, but all workers and employers should constantly assess the risk factors for violence in the workplace. Workplace violence can be minimized if the appropriate actions are taken to reduce the risk factors. Both issues, domestic violence and workplace are not new issues. However they are both issues that we have simply not explored for a variety of reason.

  For domestic violence the major reason we have avoided the issue is that it is a crime not committed by strangers, rather it is a crime committed by us, people who live with each other. Workplace violence, like domestic violence is not a crime committed by strangers, it is committed by those who work together. The perpetrator may not be a family member but, they are acquaintances, not strangers. Again, it isn't some criminal, some bad guy, some pathological psychopath who want to pillage, rape, and murder. They are people we know, they are friends of ours. It is in both of these issues that we say to the media, "Boy, he was a great guy." "He was quiet and never bothered anyone." "She was a great person and a better mother." The question is of course, are they? In both instances is there a way for us to be able to tell who may be much more troubling than others? Can we see the trouble coming?

  The answer is that most often there is a way to see the problem coming, both in the home or relationship and in the workplace. The reason we don't is that most of us have not taken the time to understand just what kind of events triggers both domestic and workplace violence. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It is a complex and multifaceted encounter that is most often a private, secretive, and hidden problem. It often times is covertly committed by the perpetrator and often assiduously concealed by both perpetrator and victims. Most often, but not always.

  Domestic violence can and often does present itself in the workplace. It is almost impossible for an employee who is in a troubled relationship not to have some of those problems be brought into the workplace. Just as we, you and I, often fail to address domestic violence in our nuclear or extended family, so have employers failed to address violence in their workplace. While neither can be ended they both can be minimized. This similar "lack of awareness" in both our homes and our workplace that is the place to begin. Awareness and training can not totally eliminate violence in either the home or the workplace but awareness can and will decrease the extent of the problem. My only point here that there is a connection, a nexus so to speak, that conjoins both. If you are someone concerned with workplace violence, and others like myself who are concerned with domestic violence can not ignore workplace violence.

Copyright © 2000 Richard L. Davis



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