Approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in Minnesota, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Each year in Hennepin County an estimated 40,000 women are beaten and some 30,000 kids witness this violence. Both the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence are major priorities for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
There are attorneys who specialize in domestic abuse cases, which are some of the most difficult to successfully prosecute. These cases are aggressively pursued because it is in the interest of justice, despite the challenges of obtaining a conviction.
Domestic Abuse Service Center
Victims of domestic violence need safe, convenient access to the legal assistance and social services necessary help themselves and their children.
The Domestic Abuse Service Center (DASC) was established in 1995 and is a nationally recognized model. It is a one-stop service center where victims of domestic violence can receive a range of services. These include filing protection orders, finding employment, seeking temporary housing and safety planning for victims and their families. Each month, DASC handles 350 protection orders, helps 250 other clients and about 2200 crisis calls. Learn more about the Domestic Abuse Service Center.
Domestic violence and guns
About 70 percent of domestic murders are committed with guns. Working with the Minneapolis City Attorney and Police Department, Hennepin County Community Corrections and several nonprofit organizations, this office takes guns away from domestic violence suspects. Prosecutors have trained 911 dispatchers on how to ask domestic violence victims who are calling for help if there were guns in the house. We have also advocated for the addition of that felony domestic violence to the list of violent crimes which prevent a person from ever possessing a firearm.
To provide information and access to help for community members being affected by domestic abuse, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office collaborated with ECHO (Emergency, Community, Health, and Outreach) and others to produce an educational video program, “Domestic Abuse and Your Safety.”
The video is available in Somali, Hmong, Lao, Spanish and low-literacy English on domestic violence. During this 20 to 30-minute program, viewers will learn what domestic abuse is, how to stay safe from it, and resources to call for help, such as the Domestic Abuse Service Center. Women who are refugees and immigrants are vulnerable to becoming part of this statistic and at high risk of isolation from help. Language and cultural barriers, pre- and post-migration trauma, separation from support networks, and limited knowledge of the U.S. legal system and available services prevent women from seeking safety.
The video was shown as part of Domestic Violence Prevention Month in 2012 on public television’s Minnesota Channel and is still available online: