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Expert: Domestic violence extends into the workplace

Posted May 5, 2010

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— Investigators say Burnette Taylor opened fire in a Duke University Health System clinic on Tuesday killing his ex-girlfriend, Charlene King.

The shooting death is a recent case of what experts say is a growing problem – domestic violence in the workplace.

“Seventy-five percent of the murders against women committed at the workplace are done by ex-husbands, not coworkers,  not by clients, but by intimate partners,” said Johnny Lee, director of Peace at Work, a Raleigh-based organization dedicated to helping employers deal with violence in the workplace.

Between 1997 and 2007, about 305 women in North Carolina were killed at work by a domestic partner, Lee said.

“One of the issues we find is that when a victim is hiding from the abuser, the one place they can find them is in the workplace,” he said.

Shooting shines spotlight on domestic violence

Curiously, more of these killings are now occurring at health care facilities.

“It might be because providers, nurses, health aides, are caregivers. They give to people. Abusers find those individuals because they are ready targets because they often give so much,” Lee said.

About 10 percent of employers prepare for an incident like what occurred in Durham when it should be a security priority, he said.

“What employers can do is they can have an open communicative, a friendly environment where victims feel like they can tell the employer about the situation and then they can take steps to protect them,” he said.

Lee said 20 percent of women slain at work are killed in the parking lot. He suggests companies allow women in domestic violence situations to either work from home, or work in a secure part of the building away from public access.


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