Police, others target domestic violence
The Live Violence Free Flag campaign aims to increase awareness of domestic violence. Each time there is a domestic violence-related homicide in Minnesota, individuals and organizations display the flag for one week.
Since beginning the campaign Oct. 1, the flags have not come down said Ann Sheridan the 360 Communities Director of Violence Prevention. So far in 2013, there have been 37 deaths with confirmed links to domestic violence.
“Even one death is too many,” said Rosemount police chief Eric Werner.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Werner said the Rosemount Police Department responds to about 100 domestic calls a year. He’d like to see that number reduced.
No one is immune from domestic violence. Werner said people from all races, ages and socioeconomic statuses can find themselves victims of domestic violence.
“This can happen to anybody,” said Werner.
The city had one high-profile incident of domestic violence earlier this month when a Rosemount resident allegedly shot her husband several times, then shot herself.
Werner said Rosemount takes domestic violence seriously as a department. The department works with 360 Communities to get victims the resources they need and to hold the offenders accountable.
Domestic violence is about control, said Werner. Offenders try to control their victims through physical, emotional, sexual and economic abuse. Many offenders use isolation.
Sheridan encouraged people to prevent abuse by seeking help.
“If something doesn’t feel right, call us,” said Sheridan.
Police are often called in when things have escalated. Generally, Werner said by the time police get called there have been six or so previous episodes leading up to the incident.
“Violence is never ok,” said Werner.
Werner encouraged witnesses of domestic violence to report what they see to police.
“See something, say something. Have the courage because it can save someone’s life,” said Werner.
The impacts of domestic violence are far reaching. Besides the direct impact to the person being abused, children who witness domestic violence have a higher incidence of becoming offenders. Additionally, there are economic impacts that include missed days of work and health care costs.
360 Communities runs two safe houses for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. One house is located in Eagan and the other in Hastings.
Sheridan said 360 Communities has trained staff that offer emotional support, safety planning, referrals to community resources and help navigating the court system. 360 Communities also offers sexual assault services.
Sheridan said 360 Communities helps about 2,500 women and children a year. In addition to police, the Lewis House works with schools, faith communities, service organizations and businesses to raise awareness.
Currently cell phones are being collected. The phones will be turned into 9-1-1 phones for domestic violence victims. Drop off old phones at the Rosemount Police Department or at the Rosemount Family Resource Center.
For more information about resources available to domestic violence victims visit 360communities.org.