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How SPIP is helping make homes safe again

Dec. 5, 2019

Two women talking during a counseling session

If you’re safe in your own home, it’s probably not something you think about very much. You can go about your business without being threatened, hurt, belittled or even killed by the very person who is supposed to treat you with the most love, dignity and respect. But far too many women and children in Minnesota live with (and sometimes die from) domestic violence.

The St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (SPIP) exists to end that state of affairs. Their mission is twofold: They work to eliminate violence against victims and their children, but they also work to eliminate the social and system responses that condone or allow domestic violence. A quick look at SPIP by the numbers reveals:

  • 24-hour acute intervention services in times of crisis.
  • 5,800 victims and children served annually.
  • 8,000 calls for support, information and referrals responded to annually.

SPIP believes that every domestic abuse victim has the right to access the justice system, be safe, and get the critical services they need and deserve. They are especially passionate about serving victims in traditionally underserved populations – that is, people whose age, ethnicity, language, economic status, sexual orientation, immigration status, ability, religion, or housing status might otherwise prevent them from getting help or even knowing that help is available.

SPIP collaborates with lots of different agencies and organizations to do their work. For example, they helped establish the Acute Intervention/“FLARE-UP” Project, which reduced domestic homicides by over 65 percent. They are also part of the Ramsey County Partnership for Domestic Abuse Services (PDAS), whose focus is on increasing victims’ safety and creating a unified approach to ending domestic abuse.

Another joint effort was the 2010 creation of the St. Paul Blueprint for Safety, which has since gone national. It’s a guide to the justice system’s response to domestic violence. The Blueprint helps victims understand such topics as what police do when they respond to a 911 domestic abuse call, how various types of domestic violence cases move through the criminal justice system, and what happens after a defendant pleads or is found guilty.

SPIP is able to do this work in part because of a crime victim services grant from the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The current two-year grant amount is over $1 million, and comes from state money as well as federal money from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). It allows them to provide domestic violence services in Ramsey County. In fact, they’re the only program in St. Paul that reaches out to domestic abuse victims during the initial crisis.

Between SPIP’s hard work and dedication, collaboration with other agencies, and grants from OJP, they are making an impact on victim safety, perpetrator accountability, and the way communities respond to domestic violence – not just in Ramsey County, but all over the world.