Experts have long known that women suffer from domestic violence at a rate wholly disproportionate to that of their male counterparts, but new research has shed light on another frightening statistic: even women who are murdered in the workplace are much more likely to have been killed by a close family member than by another employee or friend. This is so much more of a problem because women are far more likely to be murdered than they are to fall victim to an otherwise unsafe workplace.
OSHA’s rules and regulations require employers to provide their employees with a fair and safe working environment, but even today this somehow remains a high bar to overcome. Shockingly, the statistics do not seem to show an improvement over time. Murder ranked ninth place for workplace deaths in 2016, but 2017 showed a marked increase: homicide jumped to slot number four.
Why? And why are women so disproportionately affected by domestic violence?
Nearly half of the women killed at work were murdered at the hands of a close relative or domestic partner, whereas only two percent of men are killed in the same way. 80 percent of these murders are carried out using a gun.
It gets even worse: women account for 77 percent of those attacks that do not result in death.
There are two primary reasons for workplace shootings. One involves the stereotypical scenario during which a former worker comes back for revenge (or a current employee whose life seems to be going down the tubes loses control). The second involves the less stereotypical and lesser known, but far more common, scenario during which a close loved one or domestic partner (usually male) travels to a spouse’s workplace to commit murder.
Many of the murders carried out in this latter scenario involve women who were already victims of domestic violence. They fled the life they were living. They called the police. They acquired a restraining order or a judge-mandated order of protection. Unfortunately most of these women are not completely comfortable acknowledging their personal situations to an employer, or they simply forget.
That’s part of the problem, but there’s another: employers aren’t doing enough.
They should be wary of this rise in domestic violence both in an out of the workplace, and they need to learn to look for the signs of abuse in case someone is too scared or embarrassed to step forward. It is an employer’s obligation to provide all employees with protection from safety concerns, even if they start from outside the workplace. There’s so much more we can do, and we aren’t doing it.