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Making Workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-After

TAG | domestic violence prevention


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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safe at work         It’s not unusual for someone to ask me what a Workplace Violence Consultant cares about the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA), until they experience one of my trainings.  We talk of State and Federal compliance with our attendees, and a segment of that conversation is about OSHA.

Every employer (there are a few exceptions) who has one or more employees is required, under the OSHA General Duty Guidelines to provide safe and healthful working conditions.  Employers may be cited for non-compliance, often discovered via inspections, and for situations in which an employee is injured or killed.  Ah ha!  Now we see the connection. There’s the relationship to workplace violence and domestic violence spillover at the workplace.

When an act of violence occurs, more often than not, there are reportable injuries.  On Sept. 11th of this year OSHA announced new reporting guidelines which will take effect on January 1, 2015.  Those guidelines include the requirement to report loss of an eye, amputations, and hospitalization of one or more employees within 24 hours.

You’ll find articles about the Guidelines and updates on OSHA “Latest News” and more information by following this link:

If you have any questions about this or to talk to an expert about improving your workplace violence initiative, just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to Visit us at

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I recently read a nice article about five suggestions to make a psychologically healthy workplace, and I really enjoyed the recommendations and the light way in which the article was written.

You know me though; my eyes automatically will scan for anything regarding health and safety.  In this article the author refers to the APA Center for Organizational Excellence (via a link), and the link then opens to a page which lists the following concerns:

Efforts to address health and safety issues in the workplace include:

  • Training and safeguards that address workplace safety and security issues
  • Efforts to help employees develop a healthy lifestyle, such as stress management, weight loss and smoking cessation programs
  • Adequate health insurance, including mental health coverage
  • Health screenings
  • Access to health/fitness/recreation facilities
  • Resources to help employees address life problems, for example, grief counseling, alcohol abuse programs, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and referrals for mental health services


I’d like to take this a step further and add various forms of violence which deeply affect the workplace.

Workplace Violence, Domestic Violence and Bullying result in increased absenteeism, health care and mental health care costs, lower productivity due to morale issues and time requirements for investigations, all while increasing turnover, paid time off, out of court settlements and jury awards to plaintiffs.

Workplace Violence, Domestic Violence and Bullying can result in media frenzies, diminished corporate image, damaged personal lives and tarnished careers. No company is immune from the possibility – every company should become aware, proactive and preventive.

As a Workplace Violence Consultant it is my job to address violence, in all its forms, and to mitigate the potential of it occurring in your workplace.

Talk to an expert about improving your workplace violence initiative.  Just give me a call at (480) 726-9833 or send an email to Visit us at

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gun - back atcha

There’s been a lot of talk about guns in schools, teachers “packing” so they can “protect students” and so on.  It’s something that has never made me feel more comfortable.  I think there is more room for error than anything else.  A college student once told me that she was more worried about the “crazy teachers going off” than anything else.

And here we have an example of the whacky things that can happen:

Professor drops gun, shoots self in foot

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A Painful Article to Read

What a painful article to read. This is exactly why I urge employers of all types and sizes of businesses to take advantage of Domestic Abuse training.  If this guy had been required to sit in a class he would have learned about his own behaviors – even if by osmosis.  Maybe a spark of recognition would be lit.

That education by osmosis may well have led him to being directed to counseling and resources.  Maybe by self-referral, maybe by employer suggestion.  Behaviors and relationships might have changed.  A woman’s life might have been saved.  Another inmate in our correctional system might have been avoided.  Why are we still avoiding this issue?  Why are we so reluctant to address prevention?  Aren’t you ready to lift the veil of taboo and secrecy?  Aren’t you ready to stop this madness?

Article 7-19-14.pdf

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A Lesson for the Ages

tcp_0237 for blogThose of you who know me well are aware that a couple years ago my family experienced a really dark period of about eight months.  We had an addition to our family; an exchange student who blended with us like she was mysteriously from the same gene pool.  She even looked enough like me that people thought she was my daughter – and that my daughter was a friend.  She and my daughter were inseparable and closer than most sisters.  In fact, our exchange student would often say she was closer to my daughter than to her own sister.  My husband and I were her parents; shopping for clothes, checking report cards, meeting with teachers, going through boyfriend drama – you name it.

What had started as a really joyful few months came to an abrupt halt when the sponsoring organization (you’ll note I’m leaving names out) randomly, and almost by accident, announced they were moving her to another home more than a month before the previously agreed date.

The girls were devastated.  My husband and were I shell-shocked and mystified.  For the next month the four of us counted minutes with foggy brains like we’d taken sleeping pills while trying to stay awake.

The bottom fell out of our lives.  All of us.  My daughter took it the worst.  Her grades went down, her weight went up.

Left to her own devises at her new home, our former exchange student was swooped up by a group of girls that made it their unmitigated mission to ostracize my daughter and sever the two girls’ relationship.  Jealousy and competitiveness turned this group of girls into the embodiment of everything you think of when you think “mean girls”.  Why not, when popularity is the prize?

My daughter did a masterful job of persevering through that dark period. I didn’t want to be an alarmist, but I also was painfully aware that suicide in girls was rising.  It wasn’t easy, but we got through the phase.

Now her social life, her grades and her health are all doing really well.  I think a lot of that came from frequent conversations and encouragement – and letting her know that the pain she felt was temporary.  In a couple years no one would remember.  Or they’d chalk it up to “those crazy teen years”.

I can’t tell you how sad this made me a few weeks ago. I agree so much with Ms. Hull; why are kids so unprepared to deal sadness that is a part of life?

So, if you’re like most parents and looking for resources – here are a few.

How to Help Teens Deal with Rejection

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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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Working Poor Tax Credit




On November 7th I had the privilege of being a Table Host at the annual Sojourner Center Hope Luncheon, the Center’s biggest fundraiser and awareness event of the year.  Approximately 1,000 people attended the luncheon at the Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

For many, this was the first opportunity to meet Sojourner’s new Executive Director, Maria Garay, MSW. PhD.  Dr. Garay’s short speech, that afternoon, was enlightening, heartfelt and inspirational.  I can tell you from the few times I’ve had the pleasure to spend time talking with her, she is a truly remarkable person.

I had invited several people who are near and dear to my heart; friends and colleagues whom I thought would enjoy the event and care deeply about the issue of domestic violence in our state.  My guests were:

Bobbie Fox, Esq., SCF Arizona

Terrie Kolker, Hayden & Hayden Insurance

Carl Mangold, LCSW, LISAC Partner in

Deila Mangold, Community Member

Lisa Pressman, singer/songwriter

Tim Ponzek, singer/songwriter

Laura Lawless Robertson, Atty. Squire Sanders

Julie Bernal, Community Member

Cara Lind, Regional Dir. Metabolic Research


Sojourner Center is still in need of on-going support.  You can make that happen with your donation, including the Working Poor Tax Credit.  It’s is easy and costs you nothing!

Simply make a donation to Sojourner Center by December 31, 2013, up to $200 per individual or $400 per couple, and include AZDOR Form 321 when you file your 2013 AZ state income tax.

There are several other ways to donate as well.  All the necessary links can be found here:

Plus, you can make the Working Poor Tax Credit even if you’ve done other tax credits for example, to your child’s soccer program.   Talk to your accountant or CPA.

Thanks for all you can do to help!




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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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Stephanie Angelo

Stephanie Angelo 

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs says, “There remains an extraordinary lack of awareness and level of denial about the existence of this type of violence.”  When I speak to people about domestic violence they talk about what a terrible problem it is for “those people.”  As if unless we experience it first hand it has nothing to do with us.  But it does; and it’s costly.

The Centers for Disease control (CDC) reports that costs of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women alone in 1995 exceeded an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs included nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity (CDC 2003). This is generally considered an underestimate because the costs associated with the criminal justice system were not included.

When updated to 2003 dollars, IPV costs exceeded $8.3 billion, which included $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking, and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives (Max et al. 2004).

Here are the 10 Critical Elements for Successful Domestic Violence Training

1. It starts at the top

When the company’s key officers make an organizational commitment to training and personally attend sessions, and ensure all levels are included, you’re on the road to your program’s success.

2. Your Trainer

Have your training conducted by an outside organization that is clearly informed and involved in domestic abuse (DV), has up-to-date information and training is facilitated by someone who understands the dynamics of abuse.

3. Why should we talk about it?

Your training must open with a discussion of why we talk about this issue.  Allow people to get comfortable with the topic.  The taboos are the hardest “nut to crack” and one of the biggest reasons why domestic abuse continues to increase as a societal problem.

4. Statistics

Have training cover the most current statistics both locally and nationally.  Your employees need a realistic picture of how prevalent the issue is.

 5. Whom it affects

There are several demographic groups affected by DV.  Your training should cover the four groups most affected by abuse and discuss how they’re affected.

6. The monetary toll 

Particularly, employers and division heads need to understand the cost-related issues that affect the company’s bottom line.

7. Myths and Facts

It’s important in ending taboos and misguided judgments to understand the complex dynamics of abuse and what lies at the heart of the problem.

8. Recognizing the signs

While signs of abuse are occasionally “obvious,” such as bruises, most often they are very subtle.  Only those well trained in recognizing the subtle signs can educate others on what is often unseen and unfelt by anyone other than the victim.

9. How to help 

Often we want to jump in and provide solutions.  But this is likely to be the least helpful approach to solving the victim’s problem.  It’s imperative that we learn the right ways to help; what to do is as important as what not to do.

10. Employers responsibilities

As employers, our liability is on the line. We have a General Duty under OSHA to provide “…a safe and healthful working environment.”  As Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund) states, “In one case, a wrongful death action against an employer who failed to respond to an employee’s risk of domestic violence on the job cost the employer $850,000.”

As a part of this training I urge employers to develop Workplace Violence Prevention Plans, establish Safety Committees, adopt Safety Policies and Procedures and to include these components in their regular Domestic Violence Awareness training.

Return on Investment

The most difficult “pitfall” to overcome is the taboo associated with DV training.  Employees tend to feel that attendance at training is a “red flag” that they might be victims.  To ensure everyone receives training, it must be required by the employer on paid time.

The good news is that when you succeed with your training you will open the doors for employees to come forward to the appropriate reporting party which is the first step in getting help.

Your return on training investment will grow over the years.  Employees and the outside community will perceive your organization as one that cares about the problem of domestic abuse and is actively doing something to be part of the solution.


Stephanie Angelo, founder of Human Resource Essential, LLC, pioneered a process which translates domestic abuse to determine the financial impact on organizations. We specialize in the business case for addressing the organizational impact, training, management consulting and program support for ongoing change. If you’re not certain that your workplace is Safe, Supportive and Sought-After contact us – we can help!  Visit


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