Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

One father’s powerful story about domestic violence January 27, 2016


Margie Brown Holland and her unborn daughter, Olivia, were honored at The Clothesline Project display this summer in Owatonna. The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women coordinates the project to honor victims of domestic violence. Redeemer Lutheran Church brought the project to Owatonna this past summer.

Margie Brown Holland and her unborn daughter, Olivia, were honored at The Clothesline Project display this summer in Owatonna. Margie is the daughter of my former neighbor Ron. The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women coordinates the project to honor victims of domestic violence. Redeemer Lutheran Church brought the project to Owatonna.

JUST OFF THE TOP of my head, I can think of perhaps 20 family, friends and indirect acquaintances who have been victims of domestic abuse/violence. Nearly all survived; some did not.

Dan Kasper

Dan Kasper. Photo courtesy of Redeemer Lutheran Church/Dan Kasper.

On Sunday afternoon, January 31, Dan Kasper of Northfield will talk at a church in Owatonna about his daughter Becky, who was murdered in April 2013 by her ex-boyfriend. Dan’s personal story of “Finding hope in the midst of loss” is certain to make a powerful impact.

Last week I spoke with Dan in a 90-minute phone conversation. I didn’t take notes to shape this blog post. I only listened.

Another t-shirt from The Clothesline Project.

Another t-shirt from The Clothesline Project.

And what I heard was the strength of a father determined to honor his 19-year-old daughter by sharing his experiences. I learned of the warning signs Dan and his wife missed, mostly because they live in Minnesota and Becky was far away attending college in Arizona. I heard a father who, even through the worst pain a parent can experience, has risen up to make a difference.

I learned more about his precious Becky, how she was compassionate and caring and how she was trying to help her ex-boyfriend work through issues. Dan would later meet, face-to-face, with her killer in prison.

I heard a man of faith speaking to me.

I heard the anguish of a man abandoned by some friends after Becky’s death, but also the recipient of unexpected support from others.

I heard this father, a secondary victim of abuse, state that “you can’t rely on the system.”

I listened to a hard-working man from a small Midwestern college town tell me of the near financial ruin his family has faced since Becky’s death due to funeral costs, lost income, travel related expenses and more.

His story is powerful. If you live anywhere near Owatonna, plan to attend this 2 p.m. Sunday, January 31, presentation at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1054 Truman Avenue. We all need to be educated about domestic violence/abuse. And I can’t think of anyone, other than a victim, more poised to educate us than a father who has lost his daughter to domestic violence.


the logo

FYI: Dan and Sheryl Kasper have established the non-profit Becky Kasper Foundation to honor their daughter. Click here for more information.

If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help. You are so worth it. Contact a local crisis resource center or women’s shelter for help and support. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time; have a plan to leave safely.

Additional information is available, for abuse victims, family, friends and survivors by clicking on any of these links:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women


Statistics on a The Clothesline Project t-shirt.

Statistics on a The Clothesline Project t-shirt.

Click here to read my July 2015 blog post about The Clothesline Project.

And click here to read the just-released Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women 2015 Femicide Report. Last year at least 34 people in Minnesota were killed due to domestic violence.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “One father’s powerful story about domestic violence”

  1. Love.
    & Hope.
    flowing from Duluth. xx

  2. Marneymae Says:

    Thank you for posting this

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    What a heart wrenching post. Thank you for helping educate on this horrible cycle that needs all the attention it can get. I will be sharing on social media.

  4. Jackie Says:

    Cant imagine the pain and loss these parents are feeling, God bless them and you Audrey, for sharing this story so that others who are in this same situation might hear this father, or read this post and survive a possible tragedy.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Tears… Thoughts and prayers!!!

  6. Don Says:

    Personally domestic violence is incomprehensible to me, what is wrong with people!
    I pray for the parents and friends.

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    Audrey, thank you for your diligence in putting out awareness and compassion on domestic violence. Just recently, my mother and I have had important, heart-felt conversation about what we lived so many years ago. Decades later we finally have realization about family violence that goes back generations. Clearly, mental health plays a key role in understanding both sides of the situation. Dan is a courageous man who is working to bring awareness and change to society regarding domestic abuse. We all need to open our eyes and be proactive in helping one another change the system and offer healing to both the victims and the perpetrators. Things cannot change without understanding and compassion.

    • Thank you for your insightful personal comment. I am glad you and your mother had that conversation, leading to further healing.

      “Courageous” is a fitting word for Dan. Yes, we must all educate ourselves, be proactive and refuse to remain silent.

  8. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    I think domestic violence is still so hidden. I don’t think I know anyone who is a victim, but who knows? I divorced my first husband after less than a year of marriage. One of the reasons was that he pushed me a couple of times during arguments. I didn’t wait around for it to get worse. I didn’t tell anyone though. I think the failure to tell is all too common.

    • Thank God you got out of that marriage. You are a survivor.

      There are many reasons women don’t tell. They are usually so brainwashed and controlled by their abuser that they no longer stand on their own. They are beaten down, verbally and physically. They are emotionally, mentally and, sometimes, spiritually controlled. They have lost their voice. It is difficult to break away from the control and power the abuser holds over them. But you survived and many have. You offer hope and can serve as a powerful voice to speak out on this issue which still isn’t talked about enough.

      I believe changes are also needed in the legal/judicial system to hold offenders accountable and to treat domestic abuse as a serious crime. Domestic abuse needs to be redefined. Why should a woman “have to wait” until she is physically abused before this is considered a crime? England and Wales recently changed the definition of domestic abuse to include the psychological and emotional aspect. Check out this link to read the full details: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/29/461411532/england-and-wales-expand-the-meaning-of-domestic-abuse

      I would like to see the same changes made in the U.S.

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