One in four: The toll of domestic violence

One in four women. One in seven men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, that’s the number of women and men who have been the victims of “severe physical violence by an intimate partner” during their lifetime. Most of the violence goes unreported and unnoticed outside the home. The headlines come when the crescendo of violence takes a life:

  • 20-year-old University of Minnesota student Anarae Schunk, murdered, apparently by an ex-boyfriend, in September.
  • 30-year-old Kira Steger of St. Paul, killed by her husband in February.
  • 26-year-old Kara Monson of Granite Falls and 28-year-old Christopher Panitzke, shot to death in the first week of September. Her ex-boyfriend has been charged.
  • 46-year-old Nerissa Annette Shaw of Minneapolis, beaten to death in September. Her  boyfriend has been charged.

Domestic violence touches people of all races, nationalities, and income levels, in all corners of the state. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In Ramsey County’s press release, County Commissioner Janice Rettman said:

“The fear, hopelessness, and despair that results when a woman or a man is battered by their partner, or when a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, has a devastating impact on individuals, and our entire community. With Domestic Violence Awareness Month we want to build awareness about this issue and let people know about the resources available to promote safe and healthy relationships, and to help people in crisis.”

Where can people get help, counseling, shelter, or protection?

Anyone who is in immediate danger should call 911.

Other resources include:

  • Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis line 866-223-1111
  • List of safe places and help lines across Minnesota and in seven languages
  • St. Paul — 24-hour domestic violence crisis intervention and referral line 651-645-2824.
  • Information about domestic violence and other local resources on the Ramsey County website.
  • Harriet Tubman Center crisis line 612-825-0000

Nationally —

In 2012, according to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, at least 14 women and one man died from domestic violence, and three family members were murdered. That was a decrease from 2011’s toll of 34. In 2013, the Star Tribune is counting about one death per week, far ahead of last year’s count.

One death is too many. One man beaten by his partner is too many. One woman raped by an ex-boyfriend is too many. One person stalked by the partner she is trying to escape is too many.

If you know someone who is being abused, or suspect that a friend or co-worker is being abused, you can take action. Cornerstone’s Day One program has good advice here about how to be a friend, how to offer support, how to connect people to resources.

Beyond the individual connections, we need to continue to support swift and effective responses from police, adequate funding for counseling and shelters, and increased efforts at education and prevention.

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