Human Resource Essential Blog
Making Workplaces Safe, Supportive and Sought-After

TAG | domestic violence at work



Every Entity is Vulnerable in its Own Way


Every client, manager and human resources professional believes his or her workplace environment is unique and has special needs when it comes to security.  And they are correct.  A collection agency’s call center’s needs are different from a grocery store.

Yet the questions are not so different from place to place.

An attendee at a program wrote this as a concern to protect victims of abuse:

“We work in residential settings with vulnerable adults. Often family members are aware of location of group home and concern if perpetrator showed up there.”

A colleague of mine, Felix Nater, put his thoughts on that question this way, “Protecting the workplace from a potential threat of physical violence by a Domestic Violence Offender or Disgruntled Current of Former Employee is an ongoing process requiring training and awareness of policy, workplace violence prevention measures & violence response, protective safety measures, response to an armed hostile intruder/active shooter and the police encounter & response.”

In other words a responsible workplace entity asks for help from subject matter experts and has a complete security assessment conducted on the facility.  This includes top to bottom, inside and outside inspection to determine all areas of possible concern.

Security experts will look at lighting, crash bars on doors, biometric security locks, parking lots, cameras, alarms, reception areas, trees and bushes blocking windows and doors, safe rooms  policies and procedures, access points, and well…everything.

Having a close working relationship with your nearest police department is always a proactive step.  As is comprehensive training for all employees on a regular basis.  And remember that some segments should have specialized training, such as receptionists, on site security, sole workers who go into homes or other locations.

It’s always wonderful to see how concern literally melts from the faces of managers and staff after training.  Yes, all your workplaces are different and unique, but you aren’t alone in addressing your needs.

I’m always happy to talk with you about improving your workplace violence initiative.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to  I’m here to help.

Oh, and so are my friends.


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You Know What to Say

“But I don’t know how to talk to her.” “What would I say?”  “Isn’t it overstepping my boundaries?”

These are common questions I hear when I talk to managers or business owners and executives about conversations they would have with an employee they suspect is a victim of intimate relationship abuse.  I can understand it, of course.  Our very nature is to keep employees personal lives at arm’s length and to simply concentrate on the business of… well, the business.

However, countless studies and employee opinion surveys have made it clear that when the employer is engaged in open and caring dialogue with employee’s productivity and loyalty improve dramatically.

In today’s Arizona Republic, writer Sidnee Peck offers a sound little article that supports the very concept of clear communication with struggling employees.  The article was not available on-line so there’s a scanned version below.

The most rewarding aspect of my work is taking Sidnee’s concept to the next level and training managers expressly on communication in my program “The Good, the Bad and the Funny – Communication at the Workplace™”   And in my niche of intimate relationship abuse, “It Happened at Home, It Cost Us at Work™” and other programs designed specifically to focus on the business case for addressing domestic violence and abuse.

Sidnee Peck 2-24-15

Knowing what to say and how to say it becomes easy and rewarding.  You just need a little help to get started.  I’m here for that.  I’m always happy to talk with you about improving communication at your workplace.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to  I’d love to hear from you.

“Stephanie is an excellent HR professional I had the pleasure of working with for management training in communications. She is an utmost professional in her field of HR and works diligently in designing and delivering training sessions that create a positive impact to its audience members. Stephanie effectively balances the importance of the topic at hand and the humor so needed in the delivery and retention of material. I would highly recommend Stephanie to anyone wanting to develop their company into a high performing organization.”  Eloisa Valdez, Human Resource Director


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Multiple Location Dilemma

Multiple locations

For a recent presentation I asked attendees what their most pressing concern was in terms of addressing domestic violence and workplace violence and their organization.  There was no shortage of concerns and it made for lively and informative conversation.  I love having program attendees so engaged in the discussion!   I made a commitment to answer as many questions as possible in future newsletters and blogs.  That way my entire readership community can benefit from the discussion.

One of the concerns raised was, “Maintaining safety for all when the ‘perpetrator’ is unknown, we have several sites and wouldn’t be able to determine which location the individual might go to.”

There is no single answer for that because, in short, it depends. I asked my colleague, Felix Nater, of Nater Associates, Ltd. to weigh in on the conversation.  He had profound and valuable insights to add and I’d like to share a bit of that with you.

“Whether there is one workplace or 5 separate workplaces, each has unique circumstances only found at the specific location called vulnerability gaps that     must be addressed. Minimizing risk can occur only if all employees on all shifts are familiar with the coordinated emergency response to the Offender, know what he/she looks like and understand their roles and know what to do during the encounter.

The day an employer receives such an alert is not the time to properly prepare the workplace for such an event. It may be too late to get the word out but lives can still be saved if the workforce knows how to respond. Proactive preparation and intervention is worth the investment compared to the cost associated with a faulty reactionary response to the active shooter threat.”

When you’re ready to activate safety protocols and need assistance to develop and deliver policies, procedures and training, give me call at +1(480) 726-9833 or email You can also fill out the form below. We’re here to help.

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Hello Readers!

Happy New Year to all!

Prior to trainings and speaking engagements I’ve never had a change to engage in dialogue with upcoming attendees.  That changed in January when I prepared for a presentation to a chapter of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  I created a short questionnaire that attendees could answer online and then incorporated the data received into the presentation.  An amazing 87 people responded to the survey!  Many, many of them also submitted essay type questions and it wasn’t possible to answer all of them during the presentation.

My offer to them, and to you, is that in my blogs I will answer a question with a short audio or video recording.  You’ll see the question; then click the recording.

Here’s one:

What do you do if both victim and offender work for the same company?

Click on this video length 3:44 min

 3:44 minutes

3:44 minutes

Or click:

I’m always happy to talk with you about improving your workplace violence initiative.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to  Call today! I look forward to hearing from you!


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I have the pleasure of going back to my early roots in human resources training for two new clients to do workshops on communication in the workplace.  I love my work in workplace violence and domestic violence, yet having this change-of-pace is fun and refreshing.  Everyone likes to switch up their work every now and then!

There’s a segment in the training where we have a robust conversation about barriers to communication.  We separate barriers by category and pick them apart for deeper discussion.

One of the segments is Personal Pressures.  And guess what? Now we have an overlap again.  An element, and an important one, in being able to communicate with someone – and their ability to receive your message, is if they’re dealing with violence and abuse at home.  If they are, their ability to be receptive is greatly reduced.

The “noise” in the head of a victim of abuse is like having a conversation with someone while standing under a hovering helicopter.  The din is impossible.  It’s not that the recipient doesn’t want to hear your message.  They just can’t.  Priorities – like staying alive, take precedence.

Training is a crucial way to cut through the “noise”.  It has to be the right training.  How do you get your message across so that the person hears you, trusts you, and knows that you can relate, if not on a personal level – at least on an empathetic level.  Until you can do that correctly and effectively you are only going to add to the mental clutter.  You may even add to fear and humiliation and find that your employee distances her, or himself, from you and others in your organization.

This is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  What have you done in your workplace to recognize and prevent abuse?

At Human Resource Essential, my partners and I are honored that our work increases emotional intelligence of management, HR and supervisors in effective tools for recognizing and assisting employees who may be victims, or offenders, of abuse.  Knocking down one barrier at a time.

Would you like to know more about this? I’m always happy to talk with you about improving communication at your workplace.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to I’d love to hear from you.

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I Have a Question


I have a question.  They say the only dumb question is the question not asked – so I’ll ask mine.

Will the Grand Jury in the Ferguson shooting death of Michael Brown get to ask questions about Police Officer Darren Wilson’s home life and back story?  Because, it’s important.  Time and again following an act of workplace violence people say the assailant “just snapped”, and why did he/she snap?  Wouldn’t it be fair to at least ask the question here?  What’s the back story?  What was going on in the officer’s life?

When I wrote the book Serrated I was stunned to learn how much vital information was with-held from the Jury.  How were they really supposed to make an informed decision?  Well, they couldn’t, and didn’t, because it was all predicated on them learning only selected bits of information.  So again I ask: Will the Grand Jury get to ask questions about Police Officer Darren Wilson’s home life and back story?  Just asking.


I’m always happy to talk with you about improving your workplace violence initiative.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to I’d love to hear from you.

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50 or 6. Does it Make a Difference?

Adult learners

It’s a strong belief of mine that domestic violence training should be mandatory.  I know mandatory is a strong word, but is there really any other for ensuring all of your employees attend?  It’s the only way to get everyone in the company “on the same page” and ensuring that your organization adopts a corporate culture of like-minded people who prevent and shun domestic violence.

The legal penalties of ineffective or ignored employee relations issues like domestic violence,  and domestic abuse can be substantial and it’s like asking for bad PR.  Why would any business do that?

In addition, it’s the only way to get the people in the room that really need to hear the message; otherwise you have folks that are afraid they’ll be “outed” by their very presence. That’s why it’s so important to me to do this work.

I know a lot of speakers and trainers who would be upset – even cancel training if they found out that the 50 expected attendees turned into six.  I’m not that way.  Would I like 50 in the room?  Of course.  A  recent training I had, which was communicated as “optional”, was to publicized 50 staff members.  Six showed up.  And you know what? That was OK.

We had six people in the room who were the best, most interested, most involved, most fun and most inspirational six participants a facilitator could ask for.

You never know who’s living with family violence.  My belief is that if you reach even one person – and make a change in their life, you’ve accomplished something.  On that day I know I did with six.  They were involved in the group exercises and discussion and weren’t afraid to open up about the tough stuff and “find the funny” in the good stuff.

Quite simply that’s what I’m all about. I make the business case for tackling domestic violence spillover to the workplace.  I eliminate the taboos and stigmas for managers and employees to deal with this social problem, and create workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-After.

I’m always happy to talk with you about improving the way your company address domestic violence.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to I’d love to hear from you.

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What Can, and Does Happen

A few days ago I received a call from a Human Resource Director who urgently needed help and advice with an employee situation that was escalating quickly. The employee was missing work, bruised when she was there, and her spouse was threatening co-worker’s and demanding information of his wife’s whereabouts and schedule.  I guided her through dynamics, processes, legalities and options.  Then offered her suggestions and advantages to have an individualized, customized complete domestic violence program for their organization now.  She said management wouldn’t go for it, “They’d rather wait until something happens.”

“It already has.” I told them.  Still, the employee’s unproductive missed time, cost for injuries, personal stress level and anxiety to the workplace isn’t enough.  They apparently would rather wait until she’s dead too.

This happens on a regular basis.  How do these people stop the reactionary mindset? What is the point of doing a program after-the-fact in the honor of the dead?

Having said that, it’s always a good time to address the issue.  My favorite clients are the ones that know the reality is that they don’t have to actually see evidence of a problem, they are realistic, preventive and proactive.

This is a painful reminder of what can, and does happen.

Want to know more or know somebody who might be interested in  my services?

Please contact me via phone 480-726-9833 or just reply to this post.


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tcp_0237 for blog

People who’ve had conversations with me often hear me say, “I live, sleep, eat, breathe domestic violence”.  Meaning it’s what I do.

Ha!  Thought you caught me- silly people!  It’s not what I do.  I don’t perpetrated  it!  It’s what I do, what I am, and what I have a passion for as a Consultant Subject Matter Expert – SME.

Even in company Train the Trainer situations the trained individual will lack the in-depth, expertise, knowledge and experience of the SME.  Worse yet, they may have personal biases to the issue.  They may not be able to answer challenging questions or handle uncomfortable situations.  Their facts and statistics may be out of date; all of which may be reflected in the training itself, the outcome for attendees and long term results for the company.

To bring, or keep, an in-house trainer up-to-speed will cost time and money that detracts from their regular duties. All of that is moot when you bring in an SME whose career is based on:

  • being a problem solver to make an immediate impact with minimal ramp-up time,
  • lowers the client’s risk by conveying correct information,
  • is a valuable information resource and provides a wealth of knowledge and support to clients,
  • may serve as liaison to the functional area from which they obtained their expertise or adjacent resources and industries (i.e. Human Resource Essential’s long-term relationships with EAPs, attorneys and shelters),
  • an SME will have strong expertise in one or more areas directly related to their subject,
  • SMEs are often the “go to” people for assistance and up-to-date information on policies, processes, and critical incidents – for example, our clients are comfortable, and even prefer, their employees contact us directly for information and a place to voice personal issues.

Do you expect your in-house trainer to live, sleep, eat, and breathe domestic violence?

SMEs have a passion for their work.  When it comes to something as emotionally demanding as domestic violence – how the material is conveyed will make a significant difference in the outcome.

I’m always happy to talk with you about improving your domestic violence initiative.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to I’d love to hear from you.

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Welcoming Sojourner Center’s Maria Garay

To my readers:  I have the humbling privilege to know Dr. Maria Garay, Sojourner Center’s new Executive Director.  Together we are creating energizing, meaningful initiatives to address relationship violence.  Recently Sojourner published a newsletter to introduce Maria to the community and she has generously allowed me to post her newsletter for you.


Dear Friends & Supporters,

My name is Dr. Maria Garay and I am so excited to be joining the Sojourner Center team as the new Executive Director. I come to Phoenix from Los Angeles, CA and have been working at the executive level for the past twenty years in the human services field. I have been at Sojourner Center since the beginning of September and can already see how special and amazing this place is. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful organization, with its rich history and mission of helping women and children overcome the impact of domestic violence.

You see, ending the cycle of domestic violence is something I am very passionate about. While this is a multi-faceted problem without an easy or clear solution, I believe Sojourner Center has and is ending the cycle of violence for the women and children we serve. I believe you can help us break the cycle of violence too, by talking about this issue and the work we are doing, with your friends, family, and coworkers. A recent study revealed that despite 80% of Americans acknowledging that domestic violence is a problem in our society, only 15% think it is a problem among their friends. We know this can’t be true, since studies show 1-in-4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.

This widespread silence is a problem for many reasons. First, it makes domestic violence victims feel isolated and alone. Second, the silence perpetuates the shame and embarrassment that domestic violence victims might feel. Third, by not talking about it, people don’t always know how to recognize abuse or how to help someone who is being abused.

Let’s break the silence about domestic violence and make it easier for victims to get the help and support they need.

I also want to make sure you know about two very important numbers. The first is easy to remember, 2-1-1. This is a 24-hour bilingual hotline that will connect people in crisis with domestic violence and homeless shelters throughout Arizona. The second is 602-244-0089, this is Sojourner Center’s 24-hour crisis line. We are available day or night to talk to anyone who may be in crisis have questions about domestic violence, or need help planning how to leave an abusive relationship. I hope you will put these numbers in a safe place where you can find them and share them if you ever need to.

Thank you all for your continued support and partnership with this amazing organization. Together, we can end the cycle of domestic violence for every woman and child we serve.




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