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Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate – but there’s help

Oct. 8, 2020

A woman looking through a window

Even here in Minnesota, victims of domestic violence – and their abusers – come from all kinds of demographics. They can be male or female, young or old, gay or straight. They can be any race, any religion. Rich or poor; any level of education; married, living together or dating: Anyone can have their lives altered and even destroyed by domestic violence.

The number of women who have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence in Minnesota could fill Target Field 17 times. Each year, more than 65,000 adults receive domestic violence services – but less than 50 percent of people who experience domestic violence ever reach out for those services.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to worsen domestic violence. Domestic abuse looks different in every relationship, but in every case, it’s a mechanism to gain power and control. The pandemic is likely to have many impacts in a household, including employment instability, emotional stress, financial stress and isolation – all significant stressors that could prompt violence by an abusive partner.

A common aspect of abuse is isolation: The abuser cuts off their victim’s ties to family, friends, and coworkers – anyone they could go to for help. Social distancing only exacerbates such isolation. If the victim is laid off or working at home, for example, there may be no one to notice if they don’t show up one day.

The term “domestic violence” covers a lot of behaviors: physical and sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. It also frequently involves gun violence – in fact, female intimate partners are more likely to be killed with a firearm than all other means combined.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and whether you’re a survivor, a service provider, or a bystander, you can do something to address relationship violence. Write to your policymakers. Volunteer. Vote. Donate to programs that provide services to domestic violence survivors. Model respectful relationships. Believe victims. Share your story.

And if you think you or someone you love may be experiencing domestic violence, this article may provide some guidance. If you determine the situation is indeed domestic violence, you can get help. Call (866-223-1111) or text (612-399-9977) the Minnesota Day One Crisis Line. They also help victims of sex trafficking and sexual violence.

The Minnesota Office of Justice Programs offers help to crime victims by assisting them in finding help, getting connected to local programs for financial assistance, emergency funds offering reparations for victims of violence crime, and helping them understand their rights.