The Impact of Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in the World of Work

*Note that data on gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) are limited and often lack information on transgender and non-binary individuals, race and ethnicity, and other identities. When possible, data are included to demonstrate differences across multiple identities. Additionally, we use the language from the original study and, therefore, you will see the use of intimate partner violence, perpetrator, and victim throughout the prevalence data.

A group of African-American factory engineers sits saddened by the news of the layoffs.

Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence, dating violence, and intimate partner violence has a profound impact on survivor’s employment regardless of where it occurs. The impacts of violence, including physical injury, psychological trauma, and employment sabotage, shape how survivors are able to show up at work.

Toll on Productivity

  • According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 12.7% or 15.9 million survivors missed at least one day of work as a result of intimate partner violence.1
  • Nearly 9 in 10 survivors of domestic/dating violence report experiencing employment sabotage, with up to 60% reporting job loss as a result.2
  • A 2018 national survey of domestic violence survivors found that 83% of respondents reported that their abusive partners disrupted their ability to work. Among those who reported experiencing one or more disruptions, 70% said they were not able to have a job when they wanted or needed one, and 53% said they lost a job because of the abuse. 49% said they missed one or more days of work, 18% missed out on a promotion or raise, and 38% said they lost out on other work opportunities.3
  • An analysis of 2012 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey data estimates that U.S. adults experience 741 million lost days of work because of victimizations by an average of 2.5 perpetrators per survivor.4
  • An estimated 50–75% of women with disabilities who have experienced intimate partner violence view their mental health as poor and/or actively experience difficulty sleeping, difficulty going to work or school, and PTSD.5
  • A 2005 study of female employees in Maine who experienced domestic violence found that: 64% reported that their ability to work was affected by violence; 96% indicated that the abuse affected their ability to perform at their job; 87% received harassing phone calls at work; 79% reported being late to work because of abuse; and 60% lost their jobs due to domestic abuse.6
  • A 2012 study of domestic violence perpetrators in Vermont found that 20% had previously left work or were late to work at least once during the last two years because they were doing something controlling or abusive to their partner. Participants lost a total of 52,731 days of work — equivalent to 27 years of full time employment and $5.4 million in estimated lost wages.7

Cost

  • The cost of intimate partner violence over a victim’s lifetime was $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men.8
  • The estimated societal cost of violence-based short-term lost productivity was $730 per survivor, or $110 billion across the lifetimes of all survivors, in 2016 U.S. dollars.9
  • The longer term estimated impacts are even more staggering. The same authors in a 2014 study suggest that the lifetime cost of intimate partner violence was $1.3 trillion in lost productivity among survivors and perpetrators.10

Sexual Violence:

Sexual violence is one of the most underreported forms of violence in the U.S., and can range from unwanted sexual comments and jokes to touching of a sexual nature to rape. Sexual violence can have a lasting effect on the physical and psychological safety of workers, and can negatively impact productivity and earning potential of workers.

Toll on Productivity

  • The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that more than 19% of adult female rape survivors and more than 9% of adult male rape survivors said their victimizations caused them to lose time from work.11
  • Approximately 22% of federal employees who experienced sexual harassment saw a loss in productivity, 17% used annual or sick leave, and 13% were denied a promotion/pay increase/good performance rating or good reference, as found in a 2016 survey of U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board employees.12
  • Detailed interviews with 22 adult sexual assault survivors highlighted that 36% them experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that interfered with their ability to work effectively. Moreover, 18% of survivors described threats and isolation from coworkers after their sexual assaults. These actions resulted in the participants feeling isolated and fearful on and off the job, especially if the sexual assault occurred in the workplace.13

Cost

  • The estimated lifetime cost of rape was $122,461 per victim, or a population economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion (2014 U.S. dollars) over victims’ lifetimes. This estimate included $1.6 trillion in lost work productivity among victims and perpetrators.14
  • Rape and sexual assault have the second highest estimates of tangible and intangible costs related to victimization, criminal justice system costs and crime career costs ($41,247 per incident and $199,642 per incident, respectively, in 2008 U.S. dollars). In 2020 U.S. dollars, that represents a total of $288,432.86 in personal and societal costs per survivor.15
  • According to 2003 data from NVAWS, about 21.5% of women raped by an intimate partner report losing time from paid work, while 13.5% lose time from household chores. Among survivors, the average daily earnings lost is $69.16

Stalking:

Stalking is the most prevalent form of abuse at work. It poses risks to the physical safety of workers, co-workers, and customers/clients, can lead to property damage, and can negatively affect productivity and morale. In addition, employers could be held liable if an employee uses work time and resources to engage in stalking. Stalking often indicates an increased risk of fatality for those who experience it.

Toll on Productivity

  • Analysis of one nationwide survey of stalking victimization found that 40% of stalking victims lost five or more days of work.17
  • About 130,000 survivors of stalking in a 12-month period from 2005 to 2006, reported that they were fired or asked to leave their job because of the stalking.18
  • 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization and more than half lose five days of work or more.19
  • 16.6% of stalking victims describe losing a job or job opportunities.20
  • In one study, the majority of the women (74.2%) reported that stalking had interfered with their employment, more than one half (58.7%) experienced work disruption or a diminished ability to obtain or maintain employment.21
  • According to a study done in 2002, 39% of survivors either quit their job or started working less and 21% survivors ended up changing jobs due to stalking.22

Cost

  • Work days lost due intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking over victims’ lifetimes are worth an estimated $137.8 billion (2022 USD).
  • 27.8% of stalking survivors reported over $1,000 in lost income with 8% reporting losses over $5,000.23
  • In addition to lost income, about three in 10 of stalking survivors accrued out-of-pocket costs for things such as attorney fees, damage to property, child care costs, moving expenses, or changing phone numbers to avoid their stalker.24
  • Moreover, the mental health costs for intimate partner stalking survivors seeking treatment was $690, or $1,177.20 in 2020 dollars. Approximately 32% of these costs were paid out of pocket.25

  1. Leemis R.W., Friar N., Khatiwada S., Chen M.S., Kresnow M., Smith S.G., Caslin, S., & Basile, K.C. (2022). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Intimate Partner Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ↩︎
  2. Hess, C. and Del Rosario, A. (2018). Dreams Deferred: A Survey on the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Survivors’ Education, Careers, and Economic Security. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/C475_IWPR-Report-Dreams-Deferred.pdf↩︎
  3. ibid. ↩︎
  4. Peterson C, Liu Y, Kresnow MJ, Florence C, Merrick MT, DeGue S, Lokey CN. Short-term Lost Productivity per Victim: Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, or Stalking. Am J Prev Med. 2018 Jul;55(1):106-110. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2018.03.007. ↩︎
  5. Coston, B.M. Disability, sexual orientation, and the mental health outcomes of intimate partner violence: A comparative study of women in the U.S., Disability and Health Journal, Volume 12, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 164-170, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2018.11.002. ↩︎
  6. McLean, G. and Gonzalez Bocinski, S. (2017). The Economic Cost of Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/B367_Economic-Impacts-of-IPV-08.14.17.pdf. ↩︎
  7. Cranwell Schmidt, M. and Barnett, A. (2012). Effects of Domestic Violence on the Workplace: A Vermont survey of male offenders enrolled in batterer intervention programs. Retrieved from https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/VTDV_WorkplaceStudy2012.pdf. ↩︎
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html. ↩︎
  9. Peterson C, Liu Y, Kresnow MJ, Florence C, Merrick MT, DeGue S, Lokey CN. Short-term Lost Productivity per Victim: Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, or Stalking. Am J Prev Med. 2018 Jul;55(1):106-110. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2018.03.007. ↩︎
  10. Peterson C, Kearns MC, McIntosh WL, Estefan LF, Nicolaidis C, McCollister KE, Gordon A, Florence C. Lifetime Economic Burden of Intimate Partner Violence Among U.S. Adults. Am J Prev Med. 2018 Oct;55(4):433-444. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2018.04.049. ↩︎
  11. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2013). Sexual Violence & the Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_overview_sexual-violence-workplace.pdf. ↩︎
  12. U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. (2022). Sexual Harassment in Federal Workplaces: Understanding and Addressing the Problem. Retrieved from https://www.mspb.gov/studies/studies/Sexual_Harassment_in_Federal_Workplaces_Understanding_and_Addressing_the_Problem_1987037.pdf. ↩︎
  13. Wadsworth, Pamela, J A Eve Krahe, and Elissa Allen. “Occupational Well-Being in Sexual Assault Victims and Survivors.” Journal of Holistic Nursing: Official Journal of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, July 26, 2019, 898010119863537. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898010119863537. ↩︎
  14. Peterson, C., DeGue, S., Florence, C., & Lokey, C.N. Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape Among U.S. Adults, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 52, Issue 6, 2017, Pages 691-701, ISSN 0749-3797, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2016.11.014. ↩︎
  15. McCollister, Kathryn E., Michael T. French, and Hai Fang. “The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 108, no. 1–2 (April 1, 2010): 98–109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.12.002. ↩︎
  16. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003. ↩︎
  17. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (n.d.). National Stalking Awareness Month: Economic Impacts of Stalking. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/national-stalking-awareness-month-economic-impacts-of-stalking/. ↩︎
  18. Baum, K. Catalano, S., Rand, M. and Rose, K. (2009). Stalking Victimization in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ovw/legacy/2012/08/15/bjs-stalking-rpt.pdf↩︎
  19. ibid. ↩︎
  20. Morgan, R. E. and Truman, J.L. (2022). Stalking Victimization, 2019. Retrieved from https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/sv19.pdf. ↩︎
  21. Logan, T. K., Lisa Shannon, Jennifer Cole, and Jennifer Swanberg. 2007. “Partner Stalking and Implications for Women’s Employment.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 22 (3): 268–91. ↩︎
  22. K Blaauw, E., Arensman, E., Winkel, F.W., Freeve, A., & Sheridan, L. (2002). The Toll of Stalking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(1), 50-63. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lorraine-Sheridan-2/publication/255613852_The_Toll_of_Stalking/links/55c1ac8808aed621de155782/TheToll-of-Stalking.pdf. ↩︎
  23. Baum, K., Catalano, S., Rand, M., and Rose, K. (2009). Stalking Victimization in the United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. ↩︎
  24. ibid. ↩︎
  25. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States,” (Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003). ↩︎