If you are worried about workplace violence… Part 2

by todaystrainingblog

This is the 2nd of this series of posts on the 4 groups of people to watch out for. The last post focused on violence that occurs because of another crime within the business and employees, current or former. Now we continue with the last 2 sets to give attention to.

  • Domestic violence:

This is one that isn’t as well known, or even acknowledged as other forms of WPV. However, it is getting more attention each and every year with October being named Domestic violence Awareness Month. Approximately 48% of WPV incidents begin as domestic violence of their partners. Domestic violence doesn’t only relate to physical violence but can also be mental stress, and emotional abuse by the partner. Or even a child, although that is much less likely.

Usually the abusing partner becomes so upset over their spouse having an affair, working outside the home or another perceived, see how that word keeps creeping in, problem that it magnifies their anger. Worse is that it may have no facts to support the accusations just suppositions of supposed facts.

They can come to the workplace to physically or verbally abuse their spouse. Even to the point of bringing a weapon and killing not only their partner but anyone else who may get in the way. People who they perceive, once again…, as getting in the way and pushing a wedge between the ‘loving couple’.

The victim may have been advised by friends that they need to get out of their abusive relationship. Human resources may have referred them to an employee assistance program, which in turn referred them to a shelter. The abusive spouse then feels threatened that these people are trying to take their ‘property’ away from them.  It can also result from bitter divorces involving innumerable issues, including child custody.

Child custody can be very contentious during, not to mention before and after, a divorce. Unfortunately it can lead to the murder of the child (ren) involved and not the significant other. In either event it can be a tragic affair that will affect the survivors with guilt for decades.

  • Customers:

Yet another group that is rarely discussed as being a perpetrator of WPV.  But why would a customer turn to violence against you? They become dissatisfied with something you have supposedly, perceived (once again) to have, done. This group most likely will be the 79% – 85% of those committing other crimes on your property i.e. armed robbery. However, sometimes they commit WPV in the traditional sense, albeit it is never reported as such.

Generally they will commit it for some of the same reasons an employee, or former, turns to violence. They perceive, there is that word once again, that they receive disparate treatment and the company is treating them differently from another customer. The fact that another customer had a different issue doesn’t matter.

All disgruntled individuals who come back into your business need to be treated differently, albeit fairly. The customer who comes into your business in a rage, yelling and screaming, demanding their money back or to see the manager is different than the one who comes back politely and requests the same thing.

Therefore it is preferable the customer that is dissatisfied, is dealt with away from others. Whether that is in a conference room, break room, or similar doesn’t seem to matter, as long as they believe they are getting preferential treatment for their issue. They want to be heard and feel like they are the only ones that do matter to you and the business.

Customers can also perpetuate violence against each other or children while in your business. When that happens it should also be considered WPV. Is it a classic incident? No. Is it violence inside or on the business property? Yes. Would it normally call for police interdiction? Yes, so it needs to be considered as WPV as well.

So what else have you personally witnessed with customers committing WPV? You say you haven’t? But undeniably you have. Watch the evening news for anyone who rams their vehicle through a store front because they are upset. How about the customer who begins, for lack of a better phrase, throwing a hissy fit inside the store because they are mad?


You will never be able to prevent all incidents of WPV without turning people into automatons, blindly following a computers instructions. That being said, how can you lessen the liability and reduce the risk of an incident? There are numerous other resources available for you to get and train employees on, and your security officers as well. And you really should consider including even contracted officers in that training.

Some of these resources that are available include your own human resources and security departments. Of course there are also consultants, DV shelters, mediators, and mental health services that can give presentations or information to hand out. Avail yourself of every resource you can lay your hands on to safeguard the people under your watch.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                     I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear