Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Faribault: Any “domestic” is one too many June 2, 2017


SEVEN DOMESTIC CALLS in four days…and one call for violation of a restraining order.

The stats, published on the May 31 Matters of Record page in the Faribault Daily News, shocked me. That’s a lot of domestic-related calls handled by the Faribault Police Department from May 26-29 in a community of some 23,000.

I’ve been especially cognizant of local domestic situations since the late December 2016 high profile murder of Barb Larson by Richard Larson. The former Faribault police officer committed suicide after killing his ex-wife at her workplace, the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism office. She had a restraining order against him, granted within days of her murder.

Just weeks prior to the Larson murder-suicide, Ryan Perizzo murdered 8-year-old Lynnaya Stoddard-Espinoza before killing himself in their Faribault home.

Those crimes shook my community. And they should have.

But the reports I am reading of nearly daily domestic calls within Faribault should shake all of us, too. Four in one day. To all different parts of my community. Domestic abuse and violence can happen to anyone in any neighborhood. And it does. I’ve witnessed such abuse and called police.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


I recall my Uncle Bob, a retired Minneapolis police officer, telling me domestic calls are the most dangerous. Why? Emotions and passions are running high. Perpetrators of abuse often fail to accept responsibility for their actions and blame others. They desire power and control. All of those factors put victims, and law enforcement, at great risk.

What can we, the public, do? We can educate ourselves (and our kids) so that we understand domestic abuse and violence. We can refuse to remain silent. We can listen to and support victims and connect them with resources to help them escape abusive situations. We can encourage the judicial and probation systems to hold offenders accountable. Too often these abusers walk away with little or no punishment, only to reoffend.

Frankly, I am tired of it.

Consider, too, for a moment how many cases of domestic abuse go unreported. Compare it to the motorist who drives drunk many many times before he is finally stopped for driving while under the influence. Or maybe he’s never caught.

Be aware that domestic abuse is not just physical. It’s emotional, too. That abuse can also be psychological, mental, spiritual, financial and technological. Abusers are often narcissistic. They manipulate and twist and exert their power. They are the center of the world, in their eyes, and you better not challenge that.

I wish I could wave a magical wand and end domestic abuse and violence. But because I can’t, I can at least spread awareness. And there is power in using my voice.


© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

NOTE: My insights into domestic abuse and violence are not specific to the cases cited within this post. Also note that if you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim. Seek professional help to make a safe exit. Know, too, that a restraining order is just that, an order, with no guarantee of protection. 


17 Responses to “From Faribault: Any “domestic” is one too many”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Good to create awareness and I’m sure there are multiple domestics on this city on a daily basis but I’ve never seen them listed. Three police officers were killed/ambushed in one awful domestic. You are good to share and write about a topic, difficult to know what to do.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    You are such a wonderful voice in this world for the safety of those in domestic abuse –thank you.

  3. There was a recent situation that has been rectified with the person going to jail. It has been a relief for everyone in getting back to normal. There is concern for the well being of everyone, however; you need to protect and keep yourself safe too. It was a pretty tense situation at times. Law enforcement and emergency personnel responded quickly and controlled the environment to keep everyone safe and secure, especially with this going on for months. Thank you, thank you!!!

    You are such an advocate – thanks so much for opening this up for discussion.

  4. Valerie Says:

    I, too, appreciate you bringing awareness through your writings.

  5. Susan Ready Says:

    THanks for your continuing efforts to raise public awareness and keep it on the forefront. Maybe just maybe seeing these may save someone or give them confidence to seek help.There are resources out there to help.

  6. YES,
    there is POWER in using your voice, Audrey.
    Thank YOU!
    This is the reason God gave us one. He’s SO Smart.
    –Thank you for bringing up emotional abuse. I didn’t know
    this was domestic violence until after Kay.
    You see, everything in my life now is “Before” & “After” Kay.
    xx from Duluth.

    • My darling Kim, you are amazing in using your voice to rise above, to speak for Kay and all the other women out there who need to be heard.

      I wish emotional abuse was legally recognized as abuse in this country.

  7. Heartbreaking acts by cold hearted individuals

    • Yes, and just in our news last evening, the murder of a little boy. The man charged with the murder is currently on probation involving the abuse of another young child in Wisconsin in 2014. Now a child is dead.

      • It really makes you wonder why these people don’t get longer prison sentences.

      • Exactly. From the news report I heard, this man did not serve prison time because he did not have a prior record. I have not searched further to see if that report was accurate. It seems to me he would have served some time if he is on probation.

        Generally speaking, though, it is my opinion that “the system” fails way too often. I really have no confidence in “the system.”

      • Yes, unfortunately that seems to be the case

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