Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Take Two: Raising awareness about domestic abuse & violence in my community January 16, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A snippet of the domestic violence poster published by the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


ON THE EXTERIOR, everything seemed normal. Julie and her husband attended church services every Sunday. She worked a 9 – 5 job at a local law office. Steven worked in sales. He came across as a charming guy with a strong opinion on everything. Julie, although friendly enough, was much more reserved. Quiet in the shadow of Steven’s overwhelming presence. Yet they appeared happy enough to those who knew the couple.

But something seemed off to Julie’s co-worker, Kathryn. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her concern. But it lingered, just below the surface. Kathryn caught unguarded moments of sadness in Julie’s eyes, unfounded anxiousness whenever she asked about Steven. Something wasn’t right.

Still, Kathryn felt it wasn’t her place to probe. If Julie and Steven had problems, they would work the issues out themselves. She didn’t want to meddle. Besides, she was probably just being overly-sensitive.

But Kathryn should have trusted her gut. Julie was in an emotionally abusive relationship. While Steven had yet to raise his hand against his wife, he had already intimidated Julie into silence, convinced her to lie for him, controlled their finances, pulled her away from friends and even belittled her with demeaning names. Julie feared losing Steven’s love if she resisted, disagreed, shared her worries about Steven’s behavior.


Photographed on the inside of a women’s bathroom stall at Lark Toys in Kellogg in 2015. I found this to be one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever read on domestic violence. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


The above story is fictional. But it could be your story, your neighbor’s story, that of the woman sitting next to you in church or across the hall in your workplace. You could be Julie. Or you could be Kathryn.

This Wednesday evening, January 17, the Faribault Elks Lodge hosts its second annual community-wide forum on domestic abuse and violence. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and features talks by Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen, HOPE Center Executive Director Erica Staab-Absher, Ruthann Lang of Rice County Social Services and Jennifer David of DivorceCare.


A photo of a graphic posted on the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women Facebook page shows photos of all 21 individuals who died as a result of domestic violence homicide in 2016 in Minnesota. Barb Larson, left (second from top) was among those murdered. The 2017 Femicide Report releases soon. At least 24 people were killed in Minnesota in 2017 due to domestic violence. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I’d encourage you, if you live in Faribault, Rice County or a neighboring community, to attend. We all need to be educated and aware. Abuse thrives in silence. We each have the power within us to make a difference and that starts with knowledge.


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.


If you are in an abusive relationship like Julie, you can break free. No one has the right to control any aspect of your life. Help is available. If you are intuitively sensing abuse like Kathryn, it’s important for you to trust your feelings. Connect with an advocate so you can best help your friend, co-worker, loved one.

No one has to go this alone. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

FYI: If you are in an abusive relationship and in immediate danger, call 911. Know that the period in which you leave a relationship and immediately thereafter are the most dangerous times for you. Have a safety plan in place. Don’t rely on a piece of paper (an order of protection, for example) to keep you safe. Reach out to a women’s advocacy center or shelter in your community for help.

UPDATE, 12:53 p.m. Tuesday: This post has been updated with the correct time of Wednesday’s meeting, which differs from previously published information. The hour-long forum begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Elks.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Take Two: Raising awareness about domestic abuse & violence in my community”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Hopefully this post will reach someone who needs to read it as well as the event. Thank you for your tireless efforts.

  2. ——Audrey,
    thank you for continuing to RAISE awareness about the crisis of Domestic Violence.
    This IS NOT only a women’s issue.
    And until all men stand up, too, and say, “NO MORE,” nothing will change.
    –You are making a difference.

    xx from Duluth.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    That ad you post about “Chuck” and his neighbors is always the one that speaks to me the most. I grew up with family abuse, and I understand why our neighbors did not get involved – everyone feared my dad. They would have paid the price somewhere down the road. I’m sure of it. Years later I bumped into an elderly couple that lived a few doors down from us growing up. Both apologized and felt horrible for doing nothing. He indicated several of the other neighbors discussed what they could do, but he admitted every one of them were cowards. Fear kept them quiet. I understand the courage that it takes to stand up to domestic abuse – both sides of it. And what you say about “trusting your gut” is the key – on both sides.

    • Thank you, Lori, for having the courage to share your deeply personal story. It’s helpful to view this issue from all perspectives. That the elderly couple later apologized to you shows a loving and humble character. I expect speaking with them helped you in many ways.

  4. Valerie Says:

    The event in Faribault sounds very interesting and informative. We are heading out of town so are unable to attend but thank you for continuing to bring awareness to this issue.

  5. Susan Ready Says:

    thanks for your continuing efforts to raise awareness on this issue as the problem exists everywhere and we can’t remain silent.

    • If my words can make a difference to one person in an abusive relationship or to one person who loves someone in an abusive relationship, then I will have accomplished something via my writing.

      “We can’t remain silent.” To that I say, amen.

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Thanks for sharing these stories 💞

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