Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Ending domestic violence: It takes a community October 21, 2014

This logo comes from a 5K walk/run honoring Faribault native Margie (Brown) Holland and her unborn daughter, Olivia. Margie's husband, Roger Holland, is serving two terms of life in prison for their 2013 murders.

This logo comes from a recent fundraiser honoring Faribault native Margie (Brown) Holland and her unborn daughter, Olivia, murdered in 2013. Roger Holland, Margie’s husband, is serving two terms of life in prison for their murders. Margie’s dad was once my neighbor.


His voice rising in anger. Yelling in her face. Rage exploding. The peace of a glorious autumn morning shattered.

The disturbance drew me from my task of emptying flower pots to observe the young couple passing by across the street.

He was shirtless on this October morning when the temp had not yet reached 60 degrees. That in itself seemed odd.

But it was his anger toward the woman walking beside him that led me into my front yard, thoughts of calling the police already formulating.

I pulled muddy gloves from my hands, patted the cell phone locked in my back jeans pocket. Then I watched. I watched as he shoved her, grabbed her. Then a parked vehicle blocked my view before they emerged on the other side and she attempted to cross the street. He pulled her back. Then they disappeared around the corner, out of my view.

I’d witnessed enough.

This is not fiction. This is an actual case of domestic abuse. This happened last week in my neighborhood in my community of Faribault, Minnesota, where last year the Hope Center served 473 women and 54 children through its domestic violence program. The center’s sexual assault program served 62 primary and 38 secondary (family and friends) victims.

Hope Center advocates provide additional assistance and education. Click here to learn more.

I don’t know what happened to the couple after I phoned law enforcement. Could I have done more? Should I have intervened?

If this man was verbally and physically abusing this woman in public along a busy street, I fear how he treats her behind closed doors.


THE HOPE CENTER and my county of Rice have submitted a grant request to fund a new program, “The Blueprint for Safety,” in an effort to stop domestic violence, according to information on the county attorney’s Facebook page. I wish it wasn’t needed. But it is.

The program initiates a collaborative effort among agencies to tackle issues, “to move forward with things such as better data collection, information sharing, training, and understanding of each player’s role to help improve the response to domestic violence in our community.” (Click here to learn more.)

I applaud this effort.

But it still takes each of us, individually, to speak up with a strong and unwavering voice against domestic violence. It takes a community.

FYI: If you live in Rice County, Minnesota, and are a victim of domestic abuse, you can call the Hope Center 24-hour SafeLine at 1-800-607-2330.  The center also offers support to family and friends. Call 507-332-0882 during business hours to speak with an advocate.


FORTY YEARS AGO in St. Paul, the first shelter in the U.S. for battered women and their children was established. Women’s Advocates will mark that occasion with an anniversary celebration and benefit on Thursday evening, October 23, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Click here for more info. Today the center serves an average of 45 women and children daily.

FYI: For Women’s Advocates information or help, call the 24-hour crisis line at 651-227-8284 or state-wide toll free at 1-866-223-111.


TO THE NORTH IN DULUTH,  a coordinated community response to domestic violence has just received an international award. The World Future Council last week bestowed the 2014 Future Policy Award for Ending Violence against Women and Girls upon The Duluth Model at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland. The equivalent of a gold award recognizes best policies to combat violence against women and girls. In summary, the plan focuses on the community working together to end domestic violence and on holding offenders accountable and keeping victims safe. To learn more about The Duluth Model, click here. To learn more about the World Future Council, click here.

FYI: For more information about the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs in Duluth, call 218-722-2781.


Another resource to call is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Click here to read an earlier post I published about domestic violence.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Ending domestic violence: It takes a community”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I know how this incident must have shaken you and you did what I think you should have done—you called the police. I suspect if you had tried to intervene it would not have ended well for either you or the woman. I am so grateful that there are resources out there for women (and men) who find themselves in situations of violence and abuse.

    • Yes, I was shaken to the core. But this is not the first time an incident of domestic violence has occurred along my street. Many years ago, in the dark of a winter night, we were awakened to the screams of a woman screaming for someone to call 911. We did. I don’t know what happened, but someone was taken away in an ambulance.

      And, yes, you are correct about the reason I did not physically intervene in the incident last week. The young man was raging with anger and I did not feel safe confronting him.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    To get directly involved is a tough call. The minimum anyone should do is call law enforcement. You may have very well saved her life. Good call.

  3. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a terrible thing to witness. It’s so true that if you see it going on in public, imagine what must be going on in private. It’s very sad that some men think it’s their right to be violent towards women. I’m glad your community is doing something about it but isn’t it sad it’s got to that point. You would think parents could bring up their children to show respect towards others – then none of these programs would be necessary xx

    • The reasons for domestic violence run deep and, yes, it saddens me beyond words that domestic violence exists. Every individual is accountable for his/her actions, though, and I will never accept an abuser’s excuse that he (she) was violent based on upbringing or being a victim himself or because of something his victim did. We are each responsible for our own actions, regardless of how we were raised. Control and manipulation are at the core of domestic abuse, which is more than just physical. It’s also psychological abuse. And, yes, I am thankful that communities like mine are doing more to understand, respond to and curb this crime.

  4. Thread crazy Says:

    I applaud you Audrey and can only pray more people act as you did by calling law enforcement. Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated by anyone. Witnessing what you did I’m sure left you speechless and shaken; but once again, I’m glad you contacted the police.

  5. Sue Ready Says:

    I like the idea of having open conversations on your blog regarding domestic violence. As you can see so many people have much to say on the subject and also want to share their own personal experiences. And letting others know what resources are available really provides a service to your blog community. I hope you will continue making these ongoing conversations available frequently.

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