Minnesota groups seek more funds to avert domestic violenceST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women is asking lawmakers for more money to prevent domestic violence, noting that funding cuts have significantly reduced the available help.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women is asking lawmakers for more money to prevent domestic violence, noting that funding cuts have significantly reduced the available help.
Liz Richards, the coalition's executive director, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press the group is seeking an additional $1.5 million a year for advocacy services. Three domestic violence programs have closed in the past eight months and others have reduced services due to funding cuts.
The coalition was among six groups that held their annual Action Day to End Violence Against Women at the Capitol, meeting with legislators and rallying in the rotunda.
In its annual "femicide" report, the coalition says at least 14 female homicide victims in Minnesota last year allegedly were killed by a current or former partner. Half of those homicides happened after the women had left or were trying to leave the relationships.
The report showed the smallest number of domestic violence-related homicides since 1991. Richards said she would love to call it a trend, but the numbers so far for this year are telling a different story: Seven women have died in alleged intimate-partner homicides in Minnesota in 2013, compared with four at this time last year.
Someone leaving an abusive relationship is at a 75 percent increased risk of being severely harmed or killed, said Shelley Johnson Cline, executive director of the St. Paul Intervention Project.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors to control the victim, not usually an isolated incident, Cline said. So when perpetrators feel they're losing control, she said, the violence often escalates.
A safety plan is important for someone trying to leave an abusive relationship. Cline recommends reaching out to a battered women's program where advocates can develop such a plan. But someone in a critical situation, such as someone who's being beaten or attacked, should call 911 right away, she said.
St. Paul had an average of six intimate-partner homicides a year for several years, Cline said. That's fallen to about two a year since 2005, with the launch of a program called FLARE-UP (First Light Accountability Response Enforcement United With Prosecution). It partners the St. Paul Intervention Project with police and different arms of the criminal justice system.
Domestic-abuse advocates and police every morning go through police reports from the night before to identify chronic offenders and cases with the most potential to turn deadly, Cline said. They visit the victims to offer help and work with prosecutors and investigators to get the cases charged.