SAN ANTONIO – If there were a domestic violence victim in a workplace, would his or her coworkers know? Unless someone knows what to look for, it's almost impossible to help people who may be in trouble.
That's why some local companies, as well as companies around the nation, are using a domestic violence training program in hopes of saving lives and creating community change.
It's likely in every workplace that there is someone showing red flags that signify they're being abused. In Bexar County, one in three women will experience abuse in their lifetime. The statistic for men is one in 33, according to Family Violence Prevention Services.
"People you might not suspect are issuing or experiencing domestic violence. It's happening," said Stefanie Adame with Bank of America.
The statistics prompted Stefanie Adame to begin domestic violence training at every Bank of America branch in San Antonio. The training is led by experts and survivors such as Gwendolyn Wilder, who is an author, business owner and public speaker.
"I came out on the other side, but I didn't do it by myself," Wilder told groups of employees at training sessions.
Wilder teaches that abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional, financial or sexual. If people know what to look for, the signs are there. She said to look for coworkers dressing strangely, such as wearing long sleeves in the summer. Also, notice if they're absent from work a lot or always coming in late.
"There was someone that was late every morning and she said, 'I just wish my manager would have asked me why I was late,'" Adame said.
"My abuser, no kidding, called my phone over 100 times, sent me literally over 200 emails in one day, harassing me at work," Wilder said.
Wilder listed other ways abusers get involved with a victim's workplace.
"Significant others continually pop up or they're sitting in the parking lot. If they call and leave disruptive messages saying, 'This is not a good employee. You shouldn't have this person,’” Wilder said.
Wilder instructs employees who see any signs to talk to the person or have a manager talk to them. Express support and point them to resources. Study those resources beforehand so you know how to help.
"Why do we want leadership to know about this? If they're slacking off with productivity, they're coming in late, they're interacting with customers in a negative way, this is going to impact their livelihood," Wilder said.
Businesses creating action teams to address these issues make work a safe zone, instead of a place where stressful secrets stay hidden.
"One of the benefits we offer is relocation, so we've enabled them to move and keep their job within the company and start fresh," Adame said.
All of these initiatives let survivors know there are options and they're never alone.
Any manager interested in bringing the training to their company can call the Family Violence Prevention Services at 210-733-8810 or Wilder at 210-519-7801.