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Case County Sheriff's Corner: Domestic violence resources are available

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch

The month of October has been identified as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Minnesota and several other states. It is estimated that one in four women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime and, on average, three women are killed every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner nationwide. We would like to share some information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, both statewide and on a local level, as well as share resources locally for those who may be in need of them.

A news release this month from Governor Dayton's Office noted last October saw the rise of the #MeToo movement, in which countless courageous survivors publicly shared their stories in search of accountability and change. One year later, as we continue to progress in this movement, Gov. Mark Dayton has designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Minnesota. Organizations across the state will host events to help spread awareness throughout this month.

"Every year we see the tragedies from domestic violence in communities throughout the state, but the last year has brought a much greater voice to survivors through the awareness of movements such as #MeToo," said Liz Richards, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, in a news release.

In the past decade, about 80 percent of women murdered in Minnesota were killed in domestic violence homicides. In 2017, at least 24 people were killed due to domestic violence in Minnesota. At least 12 people in the state have been murdered due to domestic violence in 2018. Throughout October, communities across the country will mourn for those whose lives were taken by domestic violence, celebrate the tremendous progress victim advocates have made over the years, and connect with one another with a true sense of unity to end domestic violence.

Cass County has some excellent resources for domestic abuse, including Family Safety Network of Cass County (FSN). Family Safety Network provides assistance and support to victims of domestic violence throughout Cass County and portions of the Leech Lake Reservation. The FSN staff advocates, as well as their trained volunteer advocates, respond to crisis calls 24-hours a day, seven days a week. FSN made this service a priority several years ago when, working with the Cass County Sheriff's Office, a policy was drafted and implemented that requires officers responding to calls for service that involve domestic assaults—both physical and verbal—to contact the on-call FSN advocates. In addition to contacting the FSN office, deputies provide crime victims with a crime victim's service card, which has information about victim rights, including contact information and phone numbers for further assistance as they follow their case through the legal process. The victims can choose if they want follow-up from FSN or they can contact them later if they have questions about the process. FSN staff and the Cass County deputies and administration have worked closely over the years to address concerns of victims, along with exploring new practices and policies. (

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The

Leech Lake Family Violence Program believes that violence presents itself in many forms and that all forms have destructive effects on not only the victim but the family, community, reservation and society. Violence can affect all aspects of its victims and it can be deadly. The responsibility for the violence lies with the abuser, not the victim. They believe that violence is a learned behavior and as such can be unlearned. They are there to help the cycle of violence. The Lech Lake Family Violence Program strives to do its best in supporting any person affected by family violence in a respectful, nonjudgmental manner, always seeking the empowerment of each individual in gaining freedom from violence and abuse. (

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Within Reach is another group that is active in Cass and surrounding counties. Support Within Reach supports everyone who is affected by sexual violence. They are a resource for victims and survivors of sexual violence in any form. SWR also offers support to friends and family of survivors and other concerned persons. Through their cooperative work, SWR is committed to challenging practices, policies and institutions which promote systems of oppression. They develop and nurture relationships with collaborating agencies, allowing them to understand their role within the system along with their strengths and limitations. As a result, they are better able to assist their clients in navigating complex systems which would otherwise inhibit their understanding and healing. (

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Crisis Line and Referral Service was established in 1988 in response to the significant number of teen suicides and suicide attempts. Today, and tens of thousands of calls later, they have grown into a crisis line that assists people of all age groups and from all walks of life. Their mission is to provide confidential and anonymous telephone support to people in distress and crisis, and to serve as a lifeline for positive change by connecting their clients to area resources and to give support and encouragement. (https://crisislineandreferralservice.org)

Cass County Crime Victim Services is grant-funded from the county attorney's office and offers assistance to "general crime victims." This refers to, but is not limited to: assault, robbery, burglary, theft, homicide, DWI vehicular homicide or injury, arson, criminal damage to property and bias/hate crimes. They also offer support services, crisis intervention, reassurance and supporting and information regarding the rights of victims, referral to other agencies or sources of assistance, help completing restraining/harassment orders and transportation for court related appointments. (

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We

are fortunate to have partnerships with these agencies in providing crime victim support and advocacy to all residents within Cass County. Their work is an important tool in our delivery of law enforcement services and making our communities a safe place to live.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: by email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us; by phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; by mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff's Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.

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