Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Article: At least 34 domestic violence deaths in Minnesota last year

Despite many women doing the “right thing,” at least 23 were murdered in 2011 as a result of domestic violence.
Erica Staab, executive director of HOPE Center, said many of the murder victims got others involved, contacted the police, had orders for protection, and were in the process of leaving their abuser.
“We do know that leaving is often the most dangerous and critical time,” Staab said. “It’s why people stay. If he’s threatened ‘If you leave I will kill you and kill your family’ - women know this is true.”
At least four children, six family members, and one man were also killed as a result of domestic violence in 2011.
These numbers were included in the annual Femicide Report released last week by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. The organization has tracked domestic violence deaths since 1989, compiling the Femicide Report from news accounts of domestic violence deaths.
Liz Richards, with the MCBW, said the coalition documents the deaths to direct attention to the dangerous reality of domestic violence.
With at least 25 murders in 2009 and 29 murders in 2010, the 34 murders in 2011 is part of a three-year increase.
“It’s daunting and incredibly sad,” Staab said. “There are ways to come together to create safer environments. One of the things we’ve been trying to look at is funding prevention.”
Staab said examples of prevention include educating people on what healthy relationships look like, how to create healthy relationships, and teaching skills to help reduce arguments. She said it’s important that there’s collaboration at home and in the school system to role model healthy relationships.
Without a way of predicting which abusers will end up killing their partner, the Femicide Report does include several “red flags” for batterer lethality. Some of the red flags include separation, extended history of domestic violence or other violence, pregnancy, access to a firearm, threats to use a weapon, stalking, attempted strangulation, forced sex, extreme jealousy, control of daily activities, and threats or fantasies of homicide or suicide.
Staab said it’s important to take all threats seriously. She said quite a few of the women who were murdered as a result of domestic violence in 2011 were threatened; and the attacks, unfortunately, weren’t a surprise.
Faribault has appeared twice on the annual Femicide Report, in 1995 and again in 1996. On Oct. 9, 1995, Marlene Mayhak was found on the kitchen floor of her home. She had been on the phone with one of her daughters just before her husband, Richard Lee Mayhak, 52, shot her twice and then shot himself.
On Sept. 12, 1996, Julie Carroll, 43, was found dead after her 10-year-old daughter ran to a neighbor’s house to report that she and her mother had been shot by her mother’s boyfriend. Carroll’s 3-year-old child was unharmed. Erroll James Grosman surrendered to police, was released from the Rice County Jail when his bail was lowered to $500,000, and committed suicide in mid-December 1996.
Staab said she started volunteering with places like HOPE Center after her friend Carroll was murdered by her boyfriend. She said Carroll’s death is still why she does what she does.
“(Domestic violence) affects so many age groups and leaves behind so many victims,” Staab said. “We recommend people come seek out help. So many times a neighbor tells someone about HOPE Center. Knowing your concern can make a difference.”

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