by Jeff Mortensen
President & COO

According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW), nearly half (41%) of teens seen at Twin Cities health clinics report physical and/or sexual violence in their relationships. One in three adult women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. One in six men have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death during pregnancy.

In Minnesota, there were at least 34 domestic violence homicides in 2015 alone, according to MCBW’s annual Minnesota Femicide Report, released in January. 45-year-old Kelly Ann Anderson was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend on August 7th. 21-year-old Ayan Abdi Abdulahi was shot and killed by her boyfriend on April 11th. There are an additional 32 names and horrific stories of loss due to domestic violence in our communities detailed in the report.

MCBW first compiled its femicide report in 1989, to track domestic violence homicides. Since that time, MCBW has documented nearly 900 Minnesota women, children, family members, friends, and men known to have been murdered as a result of domestic violence. 360 Communities, along with many others, believe that most of these murders could have been prevented. It will take compassion, courage, and commitment by each one of us to realize a violence-free community. We invite community members to recognize the unique and significant roles they play in saying No More to violence.

Dan Nicolai, president of Castle Rock Bank in Farmington, said he first became involved in violence prevention and intervention in the 1970’s when a customer found him on a golf course and asked him for help fleeing her abusive husband.

Nicolai says that he, like many other men, was “blissfully unaware” that this kind of thing was happening in his own community. He helped that victim find shelter and reported the abuse to law enforcement. In the late 1990’s, he served on the board of directors of 360 Communities and was instrumental in the opening of the Hastings Lewis House. His wife, LaVonne, has become an avid supporter of violence prevention and intervention work herself, having participated in nearly every Lewis House Charity Golf Tournament since its inception over two decades ago.

Officer Lilly Murr of the Hastings Police Department is a 16-year veteran of the force. During that time, she has received seven letters of commendation as well as the Medal of Merit in 2004. Officer Murr has completed sex trafficking training and goes beyond the call of duty to support women and children who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence.

The Nicolai’s and Officer Murr, in their own unique ways, have actively joined the fight against domestic and sexual violence and will be recognized with the Community Caring Award on February 19th at the the 31st Annual Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Luncheon at Brackett’s Crossing in Lakeville. Community members are encouraged to attend and learn more about how they can get involved as well.

Did you know that domestic violence calls are one of the most dangerous types of calls that police respond to? 

The event will feature speaker Brittany Schneider. Her husband, Officer Shawn Steven Schneider, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call in December of 2011. Schneider believes her husband’s death was preventable. Join advocates, members of law enforcement, and concerned citizens in the fight against domestic and sexual violence. Sign up for the luncheon today. Together we can end domestic and sexual violence.