Ground-breaking study reveals domestic violence is widespread and does not stay at home

LONDON, ON, Nov. 27, 2014 /CNW/ - According to survey results released by the labour movement and Western University's Faculty of Education today, domestic violence is widespread in Canada and its effects are following people to work. 

"While the survey results are startling, employers need to understand they can and must take action," said Unifor Women's Department Director Julie White, who participated on the steering committee for the survey.

"We've seen a lot of discussion around violence against women in the Canadian media recently, and while that's a start, we need to start having conversations about solutions as well. There are many things that can make a big difference, including supports and services for workers facing violence."

This ground-breaking study, conducted by the Faculty of Education's Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress, gathered information from 8,429 workers across the country. This is the first ever nation-wide study on the impacts of domestic violence on Canadian workplaces. Outreach was largely conducted through unions, with approximately 80 per cent of respondents being union members.

One third of participants indicated they had experienced domestic violence. Of those, 82% said the violence negatively affected their work performance. Almost 40% said it kept them from getting to work, and for almost 10% it meant losing their job. For more than half, that violence continued at or near their workplace in the form of harassing emails, calls and texts, stalking or physical violence.

White pointed to Unifor's Women's Advocate program as a concrete example of how unions can take action to support their members who are victims of domestic violence. A Women's Advocate is a specially trained workplace representative who assists women with issues such as workplace harassment, domestic violence and abuse.

"From helping women leave abusive relationships to working with employers to ensure safe workplaces for workers experiencing domestic abuse, these workplace representatives are instrumental in creating healthier workplaces and safer communities," said White. "We currently have 326 women's advocates in workplaces across the country. I'd like to one day see there be a women's advocate in every workplace."

"Because of the support and quick referral to counselling I was strong enough to carry on when I was in hard times. Being at work was my only place of sanity and safety," said one woman who chose to remain anonymous. She had access to a women's advocate in her workplace when she needed it most.

More information about the survey results can be found at domesticviolenceatwork.ca.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including over 86,000 women. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.

Video with caption: "Video: Domestic Violence at Work". Video available at: http://youtu.be/XjJR4jnLk0M

SOURCE: Unifor

For further information: Unifor communications representative Katie Arnup at 416-333-8097 (cell) or Katie.Arnup@unifor.org or Unifor women's department director Julie White at 519-691-2489 (cell) or Julie.White@unifor.org.

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