How To Create Domestic Violence Training For Awareness And Advocacy

Corey Bleich
5 min read

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and 2020 has added a new urgency to this annual event. Since many areas issued shelter-in-place or quarantine orders, the risk of domestic violence has unfortunately increased. Whether your business has transitioned to working at home or is gradually returning to work in-person, domestic violence training—offered in collaboration with a local domestic violence organization—can help gatekeepers recognize the warning signs of domestic violence in fellow employees or the people they serve, and provide them with support to get the right help fast.

Gatekeepers are not behavioral health experts, but rather caring individuals, often natural helpers, who can talk to a person about their situation and lead them to a trained professional or local resource. Many work in service-based roles already, like HR employees, teachers, healthcare workers, and community workers, but people can act as gatekeepers in any industry or position.

What is domestic violence training?

Domestic violence training teaches employees to recognize the signs of domestic violence (or intimate partner violence) and how to direct both abusers and victims to resources and help.

Here are some critical statistics surrounding intimate partner violence (IPV):

  • IPV affects over 12 million people annually
  • Almost half of both women and men have experienced physical aggression from their partner
  • Although women are more often victims of IPV, 4% of men also report domestic violence
  • Almost 33% of women killed on the job in the U.S. were killed by an intimate partner

To protect your employees and the people you serve (like students or patients), domestic violence training is crucial.

Almost 33% of women killed on the job were killed by an intimate partner

The myths around domestic violence

One reason why some businesses may choose to not implement domestic violence training is due to the myths surrounding it. Some of the most common myths about IPV include the following.

Myth 1: Domestic violence isn’t common

Fact: Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent and underreported crimes in the U.S.

Myth 2: A occasional slap or a shove isn’t serious

Fact: Small acts of aggression can easily turn into larger, life-threatening actions.

Myth 3: Alcohol and drugs cause domestic violence

Fact: While the presence of alcohol and drugs don’t help, they do not cause IPV. Many abusers use alcohol and drugs as the excuse for why they abuse, but abuse continues even when those are taken away.

Myth 4: Victims bring it on themselves

Fact: There is no particular personality trait or person who experiences IPV. Abuse occurs across race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and ethnicity lines. The problem is not the victim – it’s the abuser.

Myth 5: Victims choose to stay

Fact: Many victims desperately want to leave, but don’t have the resources to do so. Abusers often threaten to harm children and family pets, and some emergency shelters can’t take animals. Leaving an abusive situation requires help from outside, often in the form of a trusted friend or colleague who can offer support. This makes gatekeeper training so important.

Types of domestic violence training

There are various types of domestic violence trainings. Some are good for all employees to take, while others go more in-depth and should focus on educating gatekeepers (e.g., human resources, front-line workers, and managers).

For more advanced levels of training, it’s best to partner with local domestic violence organizations. They can provide you with domestic violence training materials specific to your area, along with local resources.

Domestic violence awareness training

The first level of domestic violence awareness training is a great basic overview for all employees.

Even if an employee doesn’t interact directly with the public, they should be aware of warning signs among fellow employees. If they’re experiencing domestic violence themselves, or fear they may become abusive in their own relationship, this can be an opportunity to share life-saving resources with them directly.

Domestic violence advocate training

Domestic violence advocate training takes awareness up a notch.

Gatekeepers like direct supervisors and human resources staff should know how to take a more active, supportive role for employees who are experiencing IPV.

Domestic violence intervention training

Police officers, social workers, nurses, doctors, and teachers should get the most in-depth domestic violence intervention training, as they are often called to step into a potentially dangerous situation.

This advanced training includes de-escalation tactics and emergency resources when victims need to be removed from a situation urgently. Again, this form of training is best developed in partnership with a local domestic violence organization or an employee training company that brings in advanced subject matter experts as consultants.

Which topics should I cover in our domestic violence training?

While each training will vary in depth depending upon who is in attendance, there are some topics that every training should include.

Definition of domestic violence

This topic debunks common myths about domestic violence and defines what it can look like.

How to identify risk factors

Identifying risk factors for domestic violence is important. Many people assume they know what a victim looks like, but in reality, there is no one type of victim. Domestic violence victims and people at risk can be any age, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, and race or ethnicity.

Knowing how to appropriately identify risk factors—and any warning signs—can be life-saving for your employees and the people you serve.

Warning signs of domestic violence

The warning signs of domestic violence are not always written on the surface of the skin.

Your employees may be suffering abuse at the hands of an intimate partner and not even connect it to domestic violence. Domestic violence training that teaches the warning signs of abuse can help not only gatekeepers better recognize it and offer aid but may also help employees recognize it in their own lives. Find more information on warning signs here.

Domestic violence resources

Many victims stay with their abuser because they don’t know where else to go. Working with a local domestic violence organization can help your business assemble current, local resource lists for help.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a 24/7 resource that works throughout the U.S.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 support at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Guidelines for access and reporting

If an employee needs assistance from their supervisor or company, how do they go about getting it? Some companies with solid domestic violence support still need to make sure employees know about these programs (and how to access them if necessary).

Intervention and de-escalation

These two topics may not be appropriate for all employees but should be delivered to anyone who might come in direct contact with abusers or need to remove a victim from a dangerous situation.

This might also be covered in your workplace violence prevention program. More on that here.

Learn more about domestic violence prevention training

You may not have considered wading into the complicated waters of domestic violence training, but it’s an important part of keeping your employees safe.

EdgePoint Learning works with leading mental health organizations to develop clear, actionable training that can be delivered online, fast.

Whether you need a domestic violence training solution built from the ground up or are looking to improve your training or move it online, we can help. Get in touch today.

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