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Domestic violence isn't just a personal issue--it can affect your business, too.

This story appears in the October 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Each year, 4 million American women are assaulted by an intimate partner. That may sound strictly like a personal issue, but domestic violence is also a business problem. The impact of that violence spills over into the workplace in the form of increased absenteeism, high insurance costs for medical claims, lower productivity, and the risk to other employees if the batterer decides to attack his partner at work. In fact, the Justice Department reports that husbands and boyfriends commit 13,000 acts of violence against women in the workplace every year, and more than 70 percent of employed victims say their abusers have harassed them at work. Perpetrators cause more than 60 percent of their victims to be either late to or absent from work.

What should you do if you either suspect or have evidence that one of your employees is a victim of domestic violence? It may be tempting to turn a blind eye or, as many companies have done, terminate the employee because of substandard performance. But that doesn't do anything to help the victim avoid serious injury or death; it also doesn't do anything to preserve your corporate investment in that employee's training and work.

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