Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond recent headlines, my thoughts on domestic violence December 7, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Statistics on a The Clothesline Project t-shirt from the Minnesota Coaltition for Battered Women. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Assault by strangulation charged in 3 separate incidents

Alleged assault leaves woman with fractured hip

The headlines, written within five days of each other, recently bannered the second page of my local newspaper, the Faribault Daily News.

From the bold headers, my eyes moved down to the copy that told of hands and belt around necks, black eyes, punches and threats and stalking and, finally, that push resulting in a broken hip.


A portrait of Barb Larson by Faribault artist Dana Hanson. Barb was shot and killed by her ex-husband just before Christmas 2016 inside the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office where she worked. Her death rocked my community. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


The news stories are difficult to read. Such violence perpetrated upon another human being seems unfathomable. Yet, it happens every day. Here in my community of Faribault. And in your community, too.

I am thankful none of these women died. They easily could have given the choking, the hits, the pushes and punches and more. Already in Minnesota this year, 21 people have been murdered due to domestic violence. Let’s call it what it is—murder. The term domestic violence has always seemed to me to diminish the crime.


Margie Brown Holland and her unborn daughter, Olivia, were honored in The Clothesline Project coordinated by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. Margie was the daughter of my former neighbor in Faribault. She and her unborn baby were murdered by her husband. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


Semantics aside, we need to understand that domestic violence is pervasive in our society. And we need to understand that domestic abuse and violence are rooted in power, control and manipulation. The abuse often begins insidiously. That guy who seems initially charming early on in a relationship emerges as a controlling narcissist. He twists and turns words and situations to his advantage, to make himself look good, to degrade women, to get his selfish way, to gain power. He’ll lie, belittle, intimidate, mimic, isolate and the list goes on. He’ll never accept responsibility for his actions. The woman is to blame. Not him. So he claims.

But she isn’t to blame. No woman deserves psychological, spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, technological or physical abuse. Ever. We as a society need to recognize that.

We need also to stop blaming women for staying in relationships with abusers. We need to believe these women, support them, protect them, help them. I’m tired of abusers who get second and third chances—until they seriously injure or kill someone. Enough.


Reasons she stays, published on page 18, of She Stays, a book by HOPE Center (Faribault) Director Erica Staab. Text copyright of Erica Staab.


Leaving an abuser seems simple enough. Just walk away, right? It’s not that easy when someone is controlling you, monitoring you (including cell phone usage), threatening you in subtle, and not so subtle, ways. Fear, and “love,” hold great power.


Profound words for anyone who’s been abused or known someone who’s been abused or is in an abusive relationship. These words are from the book, The Help. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


For those of you in any type of abusive relationship, I encourage you to take that first bold step of confiding in someone you trust whether a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, clergy, advocate or whomever. Once you’ve done that, devise a safe plan to permanently leave your abuser. You are in greatest danger when you attempt to leave the person abusing you.



Turn to professionals. Within every county, if not community, you will find professionals (advocates in women’s shelters and resource centers) trained to help. You are so worth it. Don’t wait for fingers to press upon your airway, for hands to push you to the ground, for fists to blacken your eyes. Trust your gut and yourself. Get out. You deserve to live your life free of abuse. You are stronger than you think, stronger than the person who thinks he owns you.

To those women in my county who were allegedly assaulted, threatened and/or stalked by Michael, Triston, Mason, John, Richard and Jeremiah, I hope this marks a new beginning for you free of abuse. I hope, too, that the criminal justice system works for you. Stop believing your abuser’s lies. Believe in yourself and in your strength.


FYI: If you are in an abusive relationship and in immediate danger, call 911.

Texting 911 is now available in Minnesota (and other states), a service which will be especially valuable to victims of domestic violence who are unable to safely call for help. Read all about that new service by clicking here.

Note: I realize that men can also be victims of domestic abuse and violence. But because the majority are women, I wrote this post from their perspective.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Beyond recent headlines, my thoughts on domestic violence”

  1. Such an important subject. Thanks for writing this piece!

  2. ~~~~~And we need to understand that domestic abuse and violence are rooted in power, control and manipulation.~~~~~~~~

    When I asked the director of DAIP why Kay’s husband had to kill her, too, she paused and said, “Because she was his.”

    I shall never forget. 4 words. “She was his.”

    Not. ANYMORE.

    He then put a bullet in his own head.

    Thank you, my dear Audrey, for your VOICE & Endurance & Encouragement for all Women.

    xxx from Duluth.

    • My dearest Kim,

      Every time I write about domestic abuse and violence, I think of you and your darling Kay. And my heart breaks at her murder and at your unfathomable loss. Like you, I will continue to write on the subject, to enlighten and educate and perhaps make a difference in the life of one woman, one family. Together our voices rise, strong and powerful.

      Much love…

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    It is always sobering to read headlines like this but slowly I hope we are helping those in abusive relationships get out and get to safety. Thank you for your tireless efforts to promote shelters and education.

  4. Good to be aware of domestic violence as well as depression and suicide, especially with the Holidays upon us. Thank you for your advocacy. Enjoy your day.

    • Thanks for noting also the need for concern about depression and suicide. There are such high expectations regarding the holidays, making it an often difficult time in so many ways. Plus, people are together, finances tighter, emotions running high, darkness settling in…

  5. Valerie Says:

    Thank you for keeping this subject a priority. It is a good reminder every time.

  6. Don Says:

    Being a male I cannot understand what goes through the brains (hummmm what brains) of other males when they resort to such violence! It’s inexcusable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nuff said………………………

  7. melirey96 Says:

    Thank you for spreading awareness on this issue. Is sad when they feel they can’t leave or blinded by love. Sadly I had a cousin who was in a bad marriage with an abusive spouse and all during her battle with breast cancer. Sadly she passed away from it while still being in the abusive relationship. Leaving behind a child.

  8. Gunny Says:

    Abusers use any trick they can. Keep in mind that they are on some kind of sick power trip and that they are “king” (or Queen) of their own “hill”. For the abused, to vacate such an arrangement means loss or change of social standing, admitting defeat in a marriage, face financial hardships. Escape seems to be riddled with thoughts of returning to the enraged powers and domain of the abuser. It is up to everyone to KNOW someone who knows the contacts of safe havens for those who have been abused or to know these ourselves. .

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Believe in yourself…

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