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Background with storm clouds, with the phrase 'Domestic Violence Awareness' phrase in purple, next to a purple ribbon and OPM.gov in the bottom right corner

We all know that domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking (DVSAS) are significant problems that affect individuals, families, and communities. The unfortunate reality is that – whether we know it or not – at some point in our careers most of us likely will have a colleague who has experienced or is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The effects of such violence often don’t just remain within the walls of the home.  They affect all of us who live and work with victims and survivors, their children, and other loved ones. To do our part in providing all employees with a safe and supportive workplace, OPM and DOJ have announced a new online training to educate Federal employees and managers on this sensitive topic.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and whether DVSAS has affected you personally, a family member or friend, this issue is unfortunately, extremely prevalent in today’s society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 20 people per minute in the United States are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner and domestic violence costs our nation approximately $8 billion a year in lost productivity and health care costs. CDC data finds that more than one in three women and more than one in four men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

As the largest employer in the nation, the Federal Government has a duty to promote the health and safety of its employees by providing support and assistance to those whose working lives are affected by DVSAS. In his 2012 “Presidential Memorandum on Establishing Policies for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Federal Workforce,” the President made this issue a priority, saying, “The Federal Government should act as a model in responding to the effects of domestic violence on its workforce. Agencies have taken steps to address this issue and by building on these important efforts and existing policies, the Federal Government can further address the effects of domestic violence on its workforce.”

The memorandum directs Federal agencies to consider implementing programs to educate and train supervisors, human resources personnel, and employees about the effects of DVSAS in the workplace. As a result of this directive, OPM partnered with DOJ’s Office on Violence against Women to provide agencies with guidance and technical assistance in developing their internal human resources policies supporting employees that may be victims or survivors. The newly released online training is a strong step forward in helping fulfill the President’s goal. 

The interactive and informative training shows how DVSAS is a workplace issue, gives signs and symptoms of DVSAS to watch out for, describes how to maintain confidentiality in the workplace, and identifies the internal and external resources available to assist employees and managers dealing with this issue.

I encourage all Federal employees to complete the training, which approaches the DVSAS topic in a realistic way. It is available government-wide through HR University.

DVSAS is not only a personal issue, it is a workplace issue. At OPM, across the government, and in other places of employment, we need to work together to ensure our employees have a safe and nurturing environment in which to work. With this training, and the agency-specific DVSAS workplace policies, we will be at the forefront of preparing the workforce for proactive and effective response to potential DVSAS-related incidents they may encounter in the workplace.


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