Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Raising awareness about domestic violence because I care & so should you October 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Becky Kasper's portrait.

Northfield, Minnesota, native Becky Kasper was only 19 and a student at Arizona State University when her abusive ex-boyfriend killed her on April 20, 2013. Her murderer is serving a total of 30 years in prison followed by a life-time of probation with mental health terms. Read Becky’s story by clicking here. She died in a vicious act of domestic violence. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence.the National Network to End Domestic Violence

October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 

Statistics on a The Clothesline Project t-shirt from the Minnesota Coaltition for Battered Women..

“Homicide” and “murdered,” strong and accurate words on a t-shirt that is part of The Clothesline Project from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Have you thought much about domestic violence? I’ve always thought the word “domestic” minimizes the crime, as if it’s less brutal, less meaningful, less harmful. It’s not. The emotional wounds, especially, run long and deep.

 

Photographed on the inside of a women's bathroom stall at Lark Toys in Kellogg. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

Photographed on the inside of a women’s bathroom stall at Lark Toys in Kellogg. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

 

Have you been impacted by domestic abuse/violence? If you answer, no, I’d be surprised. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women will be the victims of physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Victims of domestic abuse are as close as your next door neighbor, your co-worker, the woman worshiping next to you, your hair stylist, your friend, your niece, your college roommate…you just may not realize it. I can personally list about 20 women by name (family, friends and indirect acquaintances) who have been victims of domestic violence/abuse. Several of them died. Murdered by their abusers.

 

Profound words for anyone who's been abused or known someone who's been abused or is in an abusive relationship.

Profound words for anyone who’s been abused or known someone who’s been abused or is in an abusive relationship from the book, The Help. In this section, Aibileen is talking on the phone with her friend, Minny, who is hunkered down in a gas station after leaving her abusive husband.

 

Are you in an abusive relationship? If you are, I want you to know that you do not deserve this. You are not somebody’s property. You are stronger than you think. There are individuals and organizations who can help you. Don’t do it alone. Leaving an abuser is dangerous; have a safety plan in place before you attempt to leave. You can break free. I believe in you.

 

Bird art perched on a front yard rock.

Survivors are no longer birds in a cage. They are free. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Are you a survivor? I admire you and your strength. You are F-R-E-E. Your abuser can no longer claim you.

 

Reasons she stays, published on page 18. Text copyright of Erica Staab.

Reasons she stays, published on page 18 of She Stays, written by HOPE Center Director Erica Staab. Text copyright of Erica Staab.

 

Through the years, I have written on this topic, and I will continue to do so. Because we need to speak out, to understand, to educate ourselves, to support victims and survivors, to hold offenders accountable, to care.

It’s that important.

#

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Trust your gut. If someone raises red flags (whether in words or behavior) in a relationship, trust your instincts. Trust yourself, not him.
  • Educate yourself. If you learn one thing about domestic abuse, it should be this: Do not blame the victim. Ever.
  • Believe her.
  • Support her. Listen. Keep the communication open. Simply be there.
  • Realize you cannot “save” a woman who is in an abusive relationship. She must decide, on her own, to leave her abuser.
  • When she is ready to leave, help her stay safe. Reach out to resources in your community. Support her. Believe her.
  • Support the victim’s/survivor’s family, too.  Listen. Encourage. Be there. The impact of domestic abuse spirals like a stone dropped in water.
  • Talk to your daughters, your sons, your grandchildren, about healthy relationships.

#

FYI:

Domestic abuse is about control, manipulation and power. It can take the forms of physical (including sexual), mental, emotional, financial and spiritual abuse. Abusers want to “own” their victims; they do not.

If you are in an abusive relationship and are in immediate danger, call 911. Leaving an abuser is an especially dangerous time.

Seek help from a local resource center or safe house. Or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-800-799-7233. You deserve to be free.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

For purposes of this article, I reference women as victims of domestic abuse, realizing that men and children are also victims.

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26 Responses to “Raising awareness about domestic violence because I care & so should you”

  1. Such a powerful post, Audrey.

    I thank God for your passion, caring, knowledge, & pro-active VOICE)))

    Love from Duluth. x

    • Thank you, Kim.

      Dear readers, if you have not read Kim’s blog, do. She writes with a powerful voice on the topic of domestic violence. Her words are raw, emotional, meaningful and steeped in a deep love for her sister, Kay. You see, Kay was murdered, shot by her husband, in a horrible act of domestic violence. Now Kim is Kay’s voice. You need to read My Inner Chick. Today.

  2. The Colors Of Silence

    Silence, they say is golden
    but it has another hue
    when violent acts are known about
    yet kept inside of you!
    The victim has no voice to speak
    as they fear for more the same
    but your silence bears a color too
    and black must be its name!
    Can you hide away from guilt and shame
    when the truth is learned at last?
    Did your silence aid a single soul
    when it has now since passed?

    ~Jack Downing~
    Oct. 28, 2016

    Another inspiring post Audrey!

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    For purposes of this article, I reference women as victims of domestic abuse, realizing that men and children are also victims.

    I appreciate you including the footnote.

    It is also important to note that the data used in the statement “According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women will be the victims of physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime” comes from victimization surveys, such as the National Crime Victimization Survey, in those same surveys we learn that one in three women initiate domestic violence against their partners.

    We have known this for over thirty years.

    When I bring this up, it angers a lot of women who feel that to say this diminishes the threat of domestic violence against women. It does not. One fact does not cancel out or diminish the other. Both can be true at the same time.

    I bring this up in hope that what I say will not distract from the plight of abused women, which would be a tragedy, but by bringing it up, we will better understand the problem and by better understanding, hopefully adopt better solutions.

    While the statement “Domestic abuse is about control, manipulation and power” is true of one profile, there are many other profiles.

    People can become violent in their relationships due to medication, drug abuse, mental illness and stress. Each of these can be no less violent that the profile you mention.

    We are also seeing increasing violence among women, especially younger women. They are exposed to more violent media and a growing number have served in combat roles and suffer various forms of PTSD which can play havoc on domestic relationships.

    While it is certainly valid to speak of the traditional profiles of abuse, let’s not lose sight of the others. Especially the profiles that are on rise.

    • Greg, I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed comment. It shows me that you care. You have added more valuable info. And that that benefits all of us. Thank you.

      My post certainly does not cover everything; it would take a book to do that. But I tried to highlight key info I know and understand about domestic violence/abuse.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    Something I should have mentioned in my prior comment.

    While it is true that according to victimization surveys women initiate domestic assault against men at the same or slightly increased rate at which men initiate domestic assault against women, the numbers refer to low level violence like: hitting, slapping, kicking that result in no significant injury.

    The simple fact is, men on average have more physical strength and do more damage, therefore it is justifiable for the law to sanction men more severely for simple domestic assault. Having said that does not excuse women for initiating the first slap in a domestic argument.

    I cannot tell you how many times I sat in front of the television and watched what would get a man arrested – panned off as humor because it was a woman who was portrayed as doing it.

    I wish Hollywood would get the message….

    “Don’t do it, it is wrong and dangerous…”

  5. Don Says:

    Wow! Living in a state that does have a lot of domestic violence (alcohol is a big problem) I am appalled by these statistics from other parts of the country! Perhaps I live with blinders on and never realized how huge the problem is. I cannot fathom how people could treat their partners that way! Thanks Audrey for taking my blinders off………………………

  6. Jackie Says:

    Thank you for your passion to help other see the importance of acknowledging Domestic violence as a the REAL deal, it’s all around us. We must keep our eyes open and be aware of those red flags, especially in our own circles and families. I know of a friends daughter that, felt so stupid, and embarrassed, It must be so hard for them to break out. So appreciative of your posts to bring awareness about domestic abuse. It’s just so senseless and criminal!

  7. Thank you Audrey, for this very relevant article. Very Relevant.

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    My favorite is that third photo, from the restroom at Lark Toys. So many times family and friends do know, yet few speak of the abuse. By doing nothing, we become enablers. I grew up with family abuse, and years later neighbors apologized for being cowards. They too feared my dad’s rage. My grandparents did nothing either. My mother still won’t speak of what she suffered. It seems so easy for people on the outside to say how domestic abuse should be dealt with, but it is much more difficult to be that person or family living the horror. Audrey, your courage in continually bringing awareness to this issue and compassionately addressing options is to be commended. It is never alright to physically or mentally abuse anyone, and we need to stand up to it and help support those who are often too gripped by fear to get out.

    • Amen. I am so sorry for all you and your family endured because of your dad’s abusive behavior. I am glad those neighbors apologized.

      The sign on the bathroom stall door seems particularly creative to me. I think other businesses/venues ought to consider this as a safe way to reach women who may be victims. In the safety of the bathroom, they can read that help is available. It’s just an incredibly smart way to get the message out.

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    What a powerful message you have conveyed in this posting outlining specific ways to find help. You certainly do a service to the community to raise awareness. Thank You.

  10. classyqueeny Says:

    Its such an important topic that not enough people talk about. Thanks for bringing some awareness.

  11. […] via Raising awareness about domestic violence because I care & so should you — Minnesota Prairie R… […]

  12. I am a survivor of childhood domestic violence. I am hoping to team up with my local Domestic Abuse Coalition to raise awareness at my Houston Community College campus. It is a problem that is often kept secret and I admire people who speak out against it! If you have time please read my blog that tells a little bit about my story 🙂 Thank you!


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