DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Domestic Violence groups say protective orders are important when they work in conjunction with crisis services for the victim.
ABC11 learned Tuesday that Victoria St. Hillaire, the woman killed Monday at her workplace, was granted a protective order against her ex-boyfriend, Lequintin Ford.
The order was approved last month by a judge in Alamance County, where St. Hillaire lived.
Ford, 33, violated that order Monday morning when he shot and killed her at UNC Family Medicine Center in Durham County.
"By the time we get to the point where there is violent behavior, we are really too late," said Sherry Honeycutt-Everett with NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
She said that every year in North Carolina, 30,000 people file Domestic Violence Protective Orders.
And that doesn't even account for those suffering in silence.
Honeycutt-Everett's office is directly across the street from where the attack happened.
"It shouldn't be on the victims to protect themselves, but unfortunately we live in a reality where that is what needs to happen. In addition to any court proceedings or legal actions that a victim might take," Honeycutt-Everett said.
Ford was previously convicted of two misdemeanor assault-on-a-female charges in Orange County.
District attorneys say that's the most common domestic violence charge in this state.
They do have the discretion to upgrade the charges to felonies if the suspect is a repeat offender.
Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry said that for some prosecutors, bringing stiffer charges can be a challenge. The victim may be financially dependent on the suspect, and decide not to cooperate or drops the charges.
But Deberry said her office in Durham will prosecute cases regardless of whether a victim participates.
Burlington Police told ABC11 that there were domestic calls from St. Hillaire's home in the past.
And investigators said their protocols were used each time to determine whether crisis services were needed.
Victim in murder-suicide got protective order against ex-boyfriend last month