Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A message about domestic violence in the unlikeliest of places September 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:01 AM
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THE POSTER CAUGHT MY ATTENTION. As much for its powerful message as its location.

I had just closed the door on a stall in the women’s bathroom at a toy store in rural southeastern Minnesota when I saw the sign:


Domestic violence, rural campaign view 1


My reaction was one of thankfulness. To Praxis International, a nonprofit corporation which created this rural public awareness campaign about domestic violence. And to Lark Toys for posting this message in a bathroom stall. Brilliant.

I want you to read and reread the words. Read them until you understand. Read them until they are imprinted upon your mind. Read them until you realize that, by failing to speak up or by looking the other way or by not trusting your gut, you are likely enabling an abuser.


Refuse to remain silent.

Understand, though, that you cannot “rescue” someone who is being verbally, mentally, emotionally and/or physically abused, controlled and manipulated. But you can educate yourself and perhaps subsequently help. You can connect with those who can offer professional advice.


Domestic violence, rural campaign view 2


On the poster posted in the Lark Toys bathroom in Kellogg, readers are directed to Rochester-based Women’s Shelter, Inc. That organization provides outreach, advocacy and housing to battered women and their children. The shelter has satellite offices in four rural counties outside of Rochester, home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

In the “Who We Serve” portion of the shelter’s website is this statement:

We have served families from around the world, due to our close proximity to the Mayo Clinic. Domestic Violence can happen to anyone regardless of their educational background, financial status, race, or country of origin.

That was demonstrated in Minnesota just last week when a company CEO murdered his wife and three teenage children in their $2 million home in an upscale west metro neighborhood.

This violence must stop. With the Short family’s murder, the number of those killed as a result of domestic homicide in Minnesota this year stood at twenty. That’s 20 too many. 

Domestic violence can happen anywhere. In a farmhouse. In a mansion. In an apartment. In your home. Next door. Down the street. To anyone. Anywhere.


Refuse to remain silent.

Help your neighbor. Or a loved one, friend or stranger. Help yourself.

FYI: Click here to learn more about domestic violence.

If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or a local shelter/crisis line in your community.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Click here to read a story posted yesterday on Minnesota Public Radio about domestic violence.

You can order educational materials, including the rural-themed poster I saw on the toy store bathroom door, by clicking here.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “A message about domestic violence in the unlikeliest of places”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    So powerful, this sign.
    & brilliantly located.
    Thank you for sharing this on your blog

  2. OOOO, that poster is powerful & broke my heart.

    Thank you for bringing awareness to this epidemic.

    PS. it’s amazing how happy the elderly couple looks, and she’s smiling. SO SAD.


  3. Littlesundog Says:

    This is one of the best and most powerful posters I have ever seen. It brought back memories of rural farm folk I’ve known over the years who suffered domestic and family abuse – my family included. And perhaps these types of informational messages NEED to be in unlikely places where it actually speaks to people. Once again, bravo to you for addressing domestic abuse and challenging others to speak up and be aware.

    • I am so sorry you experienced abuse within your family. I believe it’s more common than most people realize. Behind closed doors…

      We often have this image of rural life as bucolic. But, like anywhere, things are not always as they seem. And because of the isolation in a rural setting, domestic abuse/violence can perhaps be more easily hidden.

      I agree with your assessment of this poster as being one of the most powerful you’ve ever seen. And I agree that placing these posters in the most unlikely of places really makes an impact. You can’t get much more personal than inside a bathroom stall. Kudos to Lark Toys for posting this poster in the women’s bathroom.

  4. It was an ingenious way and place to get a message across to both the victim and to those who want (and need) desperately to help, but don’t know exactly how to go about it..

  5. hotlyspiced Says:

    That is a very powerful poster. Domestic violence is abhorrent and mostly, you never know about it. It’s what goes on behind closed doors and most people who would help, only find out when it’s too late. I’m so sorry to hear about that most recent tragedy where innocent lives were taken xx

    • The individual being abused must choose to leave. That’s the tough thing. Often she (and sometimes he) is unaware of the insidious way an abuser manipulates and controls. And then the violence happens. The emotional and mental abuse have already occurred…and the control is strong. But there is hope. Many a woman has broken free/snapped the chains/regained her life.

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

  7. treadlemusic Says:

    Silence is NOT a neutral stance!!!! Speak up! Speak out! and, then, notify the appropriate professionals. The situations are potentially explosive and need knowledgeable intervention……..none of which may happen if one doesn’t……..Speak!!!! Thanks so much for this post!!!!!!!

  8. Reading this poster gave me goose bumps – silence is so not the answer – Speak Up! Love what you are doing to shed a light and share awareness on DV – thanks so much 🙂

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