Plano Star-courier > News
In prime position: Family violence council calls on local businesses to address domestic abuse
The Collin County Council on Family Violence reached out to the local business sector Thursday to help employers develop a keener sense for recognizing and providing help for employees suffering from abuse at home.
Sponsored by Capital One, the summit consisted of educational workshops addressing the economic impact of family violence on businesses, signs of violence and ways to respond.
Plano Mayor Phil Dyer and Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock attended the luncheon, with Dyer opening it, saying the event was an opportunity for him to learn more about domestic violence. Dyer, also the president of LegacyTexas Bank, thanked the professionals in the audience for keeping the mounting issue at the forefront of community awareness.
"I know there are experts here who can talk about lost man hours and that's well and good, but what [domestic violence] costs us as employers doesn't even register when compared to the cost of that victim's life," Dyer said.
The Collin County Council on Family Violence was formed in 1999 as an initiative of the Junior League of Collin County, formerly known as the Junior League of Plano. Today, the Council has grown into a countywide collaboration of virtually every facet of the community - from law enforcement to churches - meant to address, respond to and eliminate family violence.
Keynote speaker Kim Wells discussed ways in which employers can recognize fellow employees who may be victims of domestic abuse, and how they can reach out to those individuals without putting them at higher risk.
As the executive director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Wells is known as one of the country's foremost experts on the subject of partner violence in the workplace.
"We want people to understand things like, 'No, don't go to somebody's house and pick up their stuff with them,'" Wells said. "That's not safe."
While recognizing signs of abuse may be the easy part, it's getting information and offering a helping hand to these employees that can be tricky and dangerous, Wells said. Even something as simple as giving out brochures or informational documents to the person can put them at risk if they're living in a controlled environment at home.
To help overcome this, the council included what they call "shoe cards" in their workshop materials. The small guides can be hidden in one's shoe and offer information on local resources one can utilize if they're suffering from abuse.
"Often, [the abuser] knows everything about his wife or his partner," said Diane Stephens, Council chair. "Oftentimes she has no privacy. That may be the only place she has that is private that he doesn't thing about looking into. This is better than nothing, and it's the first step to get people thinking."
Given today's headlines and the growing number of stories regarding victims of abuse and workplace shootings, Marie Reed, human resources director for Veritex Community Bank in Plano, said businesses today - no matter the size - have a key role in helping protect its employees from acts of violence.
"A work place can't turn a blind eye anymore," she said. "We need to have a plan in place where people know what to do so we can be on the lookout for something that may seem out of the ordinary. It takes a village."