Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Domestic violence awareness event stresses collaboration & a directive to speak up January 18, 2018



A YEAR AFTER TWO HIGH PROFILE murder-suicides in my community, a small group of Faribault residents and several professionals came together for a community-wide meeting on the topic of domestic violence Wednesday evening.





While statistics show substantial (49 and 121 percent respectively) increases in cases of domestic and sexual assaults in Faribault last year, the numbers don’t necessarily equate a significant rise in those crimes. Rather, there’s a heightened community awareness, resulting in more cases being reported, according to Erica Staab-Absher, executive director of HOPE Center.



Staab-Absher focused on the progress Faribault has made in the past year, specifically through the Blueprint for Safety Program. The program is a collaborative effort of HOPE Center, local law enforcement and other agencies that communicate and work together in addressing the issue of domestic violence. Professionals have been trained in the past year, for example, on strangulation and stalking. Law enforcement officers now carry a card listing questions to ask suspected victims of domestic abuse/violence. Advocates are called to the scene immediately to help victims and to assess their situations and the dangers they face. Most important, victims know help is available to them.

That theme of cooperation and heightened awareness threaded throughout Wednesday’s meeting as did the admonition that “we all have a calling to help our neighbors.”



Two of the speakers, Ruthann Lang of Rice County Child Protection Services and Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen, cited specific cases (the murder of a child and the current case in California of 13 malnourished children held captive by their parents) of people failing to intervene. They stressed the importance of speaking up rather than remaining silent.

The topic of mental health also surfaced, the police chief expressing frustration with the lack of mental health services available locally.



Many frustrations remain and much work still needs to be done. But I am hopeful. Any time a community improves communication, works together, creates awareness, we break the barriers of silence. Domestic abuse thrives in silence. In Faribault I hear a voice rising against domestic abuse and violence: No more. No more.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

All graphics published in this post were available to the public at Wednesday’s awareness meeting.


10 Responses to “Domestic violence awareness event stresses collaboration & a directive to speak up”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    What a great thing that your community is being so pro active in formulating help for those in need of these services. It has to be a huge challenge for authorities to connect persons with the services that are needed but having a plan in place ahead of the need is a perfect solution. Having a card that law enforcement officers can carry with appropriate questions is a great idea.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Sadly, as the openness of these situations spreads and the help that’s available becomes more widely known, the cruelties of the abuser seem to become even more dark. Have they always been???? I don’t know but I do know that the evil in the world today is far greater than before and is a sign of the age in which we live. The only real cure is to replace the heart-darkness with the Light of the Savior (which is my prayer daily).

    • Like you, I can’t answer that question about the degree of cruelty. I just know that any abuse is unacceptable. I am proud of HOPE Center and others in my community for working so hard to create awareness and to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse/violence.

      I didn’t mention in my article, but would like to mention now that Jennifer David of DivorceCare also spoke at last evening’s forum. She offered a brief biblical perspective on abusive relationships (marriages), that God does not desire for women to be in such relationships and that abuse is a scripturally-sound reason for divorce. I appreciated also her observation that some women who divorce are then treated poorly by their church families.

      I asked a speaker whether local clergy are involved in The Blueprint for Safety Program. They aren’t yet. But I see that as another important aspect of collaboration. I hope clergy choose to get involved.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        Absolutely!! Clergy involvement is crucial as, many times, they are the ones who have initial input into these crisis events. They may be the “neutral” parties who are able to avert worsening of the situation. They are able to interact without emotional aspect/ingredient that relatives or families bring to the table.

      • It’s important that clergy are educated on the topic of domestic abuse and violence so they can recognize the signs of abuse and then direct victims to advocates for help. Clergy are uniquely positioned to make a difference.

  3. **Domestic abuse thrives in silence.**

    Not. ANYMORE!

    Thanks to you and several other people RAISING their voices)))))!!!!

    Silence KILLS.

    No. More. No. More. No. More.

    xx from Duluth.

  4. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    I think we sometimes forget that women are not the only victims. Men are also. I’ve seen situations when I wonder how a man can put up with the way his wife behaves. Not a lot is mentioned about this. It truly is wonderful that your community is addressing this need. Sometimes small towns have more of a need than we think. Many do not realize that abuse comes in many forms. Not just physically.

    • You are right on all counts, Virginia. Yes, men can be victims, too. But because women are predominantly the victims, I reference them rather than write he/she. But it’s important for us to remember that men are not the sole perpetrators of abuse. So thank you for specifically pointing that out.

      Secondly, yes, abuse happens everywhere. In remembering my childhood, I can think of two families in which the husbands likely abused their wives and children. But no one did anything other than observe how mean or how drunk these men. Thankfully attitudes have changed. I doubt the behavior of these men would go unchallenged today. One important point noted last evening is that abuse can happen to anyone no matter their socio economic status, their education, where they live, their profession, whatever. No one is immune. These abusers are masters of manipulation and control and can fool anyone.

      Lastly, you are correct that abuse comes in many forms– psychological, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, technological… Those types of abuse are often more difficult for someone outside the relationship to see. But they are no less dangerous, no less impactful. Recovering from emotional abuse can take an incredibly long time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.