By Corrine Casanova
Domestic violence kills people and but whether you are aware of it or not, it also impacts the bottom line of your business. The statistics alone are shocking. Domestic and sexual violence affects one in three women and one in seven men. Like a rock thrown into a calm lake, there is a ripple effect that impacts entire communities. Intimate partner violence costs United States businesses an estimated $3 to $5 billion annually in lost time and productivity. As a business owner, you might not even know if your employees are victims because there is so much shame and embarrassment associated with it. What are some signs to look for?
- Increased absenteeism, coming in late, leaving early
- Reduced productivity at work because continually checking and answering texts
- Physical abuse like bruises and black eyes
- Emotional outbursts
- Employee’s partner comes into the workplace to start fights
And statistics back this up. According to the Department of Justice, women employees are more likely to be killed in the workplace by their partners rather than coworkers. As many as 75 percent of victims are harassed by partners at work. Twenty-seven percent of people lost their jobs as a direct result of domestic violence. And domestic violence does not discriminate based on age, social status, gender, education or race. It’s an equal opportunity offender. Domestic violence affects the workplace because the victim’s job represents independence and while the victim is there, they aren’t under the abuser’s control. But the victim is vulnerable at work because the abuser knows where they can find the employee during work hours.
When I sat down with Executive Director of Safe Embrace, John Etchemendy and his Executive Assistant Jackie McKinney, they shared what makes their non-profit unique. Etchemendy said, “We have a very comprehensive program and are the only local domestic violence shelter with a therapist on staff. We have a dual focus of treating victims of sexual violence (rape) and domestic violence. We have a 24 hour crisis hotline and are the only shelter in all Nevada to house pets onsite. We have dogs, cats, ferrets and even a turtle. Nevada has led the nation for 20 years as one of the top five states for murders of wives and girlfriends. On our 24-hour crisis line we average between two to eight crisis calls daily. In 2016, 11 percent of the people who called and requested shelter in our facility received it. We have 15 beds in our shelter and people can stay for 90 days. With a staff of 9 we aren’t even coming close to being able to serve everyone that calls us. Our wait list grew to 67 women and children who were in abusive homes and wanted to leave but couldn’t.”
According to Etchemendy, “The population has nearly doubled in the last decade and is slated to do the same in the next decade but resources for domestic violence and sexual survivors really has remained stagnant. We receive no funding from the county or city. In Reno/Sparks
there are a total of 40 emergency shelter beds specific to the population of domestic violence. This is unacceptable to us. To help with this, we are in the planning stages of adding a new building at our shelter location that will add 16 beds among other amenities because we don’t want to turn people away. But we can’t do this alone.”
There are a few things you can do to help conquer domestic violence in our community:
- Donate to the building fund. Safe Embrace has achieved 25 percent of their funding goal. A local foundation has agreed to match donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000 within in the next 12 months. You can buy a brick for a commemorative brick walkway between the existing shelter and the new building for as little as $100. “For a very small investment you can be part of this project by leaving a message of encouragement or remembrance to our clients, therapists, case workers and everyone that works with our clients. The brick shows these people that the community cares about them,” said Etchemendy.
- Donate to the general fund. You can make a donation of any size as well as a recurring donation at safeembrace.org. Donations of any size are welcome. You may also donate items.
- Be a sponsor at the 2nd annual Trees & Lights Gala at the Nugget Grand Ballroom on Saturday, November 18. Kick off the holiday season with this black-tie event that features live musicians, fine dining and a gallery of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, a live and silent auction where you can bid on fully decorated trees, wreaths and baskets that will be delivered to your home to jump start the holiday season. Sponsors can purchase seats at a table for 10, entertain clients or employees, receive ads in the program, and be featured on the red carpet walkway. Sponsorships are available at all levels. All proceeds go to the building fund.
- Sponsor a testimonial video where a survivor tells his/her story. Marketing Safe Embrace hasn’t been easy because of the nature of the business. People aren’t always eager to share their stories because of privacy issues. If you’ve ever watched an animal cruelty SPCA video with Sarah McLachlan singing Angel, you can see the impact of what a great video can do for fundraising. Etchemendy has contacted that very video producer who is willing to create the video for a mere $5,000. As the sponsor, your business and logo will be listed in the video.
- Volunteer your time. Running a 24/7 crisis hotline, emergency response team, 24/7 shelter, transitional housing and an outreach program with a staff of nine could never be accomplished without incredible volunteers. Volunteer opportunities vary with commitment level.
Safe Embrace recently had a corporate donor who stopped by the Safe Embrace office with a check and didn’t want any recognition for it. Etchemendy explained, “Recognition is not about you gloating you are giving. It’s about letting other businesses and your clients know that you care. If your business gives to charity, you deserve recognition. It’s time for businesses to step up and help with this epidemic. We’d love to find ways to partner with your business.” Contact 775-324-3766 or safeembrace.org to learn more about how your donation can make a difference.