By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO
Over the past few days, we have seen several very troubling and downright scary news stories in the media. First was the story of a female bank employee that was stalked by a male customer, Aundrey Wiley, which ended when he broke into her home and then awaited her arrival (with duct tape, zip ties, condoms, and a knife in his possession). Thankfully, he was scared off and later arrested. But imagine the fear and trauma his victim has been left with by his actions.
Second was the tragic story of the Hinze family in Independence Township. Via news reports it appears that Matthew Adair stalked and then attempted to harm a young woman employed at his community service site by breaking into her home and awaiting her arrival. This assault ended tragically with the murder of the young woman’s mother and shooting of her father.
In both of these cases, it appears that both assailants stalked their victims and both with intent to do harm. In Adair’s case, he was clearly not going to take no for an answer when rebuffed by the victim on at least one previous occasion.
Not too long ago, we shared a story written by a HAVEN staff member, on stalking and its prevalence in our society. We reminded readers that stalking is not reserved for high-profile celebrities but happens routinely to our neighbors, family members and friends.
There are many things to be troubled by in these two cases, but one that stuck out for me was the response by the manager at the store in which Adair met his victim. The manager is stated as saying that the suspect had also shown interest in other female employees but there weren’t any signs that anyone had been in danger. I am not placing blame for Adair’s behavior on this manager, his choices were his own. However, it is critical for employers to educate their employees on workplace violence and have clear policies and procedures in place regarding all forms of violence including harassment and inappropriate behavior. Making sure that employees feel comfortable and able to report behavior that is troubling and concerning is key. Having a male employee, or in this case a volunteer, approaching female employees or “showing interest” in them is not right.
Most of us are pretty naïve and many of us ignore our “gut feelings” when we are “creeped out” by others behaviors. Adair probably appeared harmless to many at the work site or viewed just a creepy guy. Little did anyone realize that he was capable of assault and ultimately murder. Taking our intuition seriously is key, if something doesn’t seem right or feel right, it probably isn’t. Talk to your employer today about your company’s work place violence policy and procedures and if they don’t have one, encourage them to do so. Let’s all work to make sure America’s work places are safe for all employees.
To learn more about stalking, download the HAVEN fact sheet.