Every October, we bring special awareness to an issue that plagues our communities, our families and even our workplaces—domestic violence against women. For more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) in this country, the impact of domestic violence is felt by more than just the victim.
Ending this devastating reality has been a priority for the Administration. During his first year in office, Vice President Biden announced longtime advocate Lynn Rosenthal as White House Advisor on Violence Against Women—a newly created position. And President Obama called on the executive heads of federal agencies (as leaders and model employers) to establish policies that address domestic violence within their own workplaces.
The Department of Labor has an additional role to play by educating employers and workers on strategies to prevent and reduce workplace violence.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued guidance on inspecting incidences of workplace violence in health care settings and other industries vulnerable to this crime. In the workplace, homicide against women is the second leading cause of death on the job, at a rate that is more than double the rate for men.
Domestic violence is also a significant issue for female veterans. It was reported that 18-19% of female veterans have experienced domestic violence. Last year, the Women’s Bureau released a Trauma Guide to ensure that female veterans receive proper care in combatting their unique and multiple traumas, including domestic violence and sexual trauma.
And most recently, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis marked the 18th anniversary of the landmark Violence Against Women Act by issuing a statement pledging to redouble “our commitment to a zero tolerance policy against this heinous crime and our efforts to help victims rebuild their lives.”
This year, as we think of the 42.4 million women who are survivors of domestic violence, we note the many efforts that have been made to increase public awareness about this epidemic, but we know more work needs to be done.
Latifa Lyles is Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.