Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Domestic Violence: Answering the Call

Oct 08, 2021 12:06PM ● By Editor

Submitted photo

By Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken from Cook County MN - October 8, 2021

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem that every community faces. Across multiple county departments including the Sheriff's Office, the County Attorney's Office, and Public Health and Human Services, we work to respond to and prevent domestic violence. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so this is an appropriate time to discuss this important topic and the individual and community-wide impacts of domestic violence.

Also referred to as "relationship abuse," domestic violence is a problem that touches even those who have never been exposed to it personally. It crosses boundaries of class, race, and education, and results in well-documented economic losses that affect everyone. The financial losses come from the burden that domestic violence imposes on the workforce, medical systems, and law enforcement. A 2004 study documented a loss of $5.8 billion dollars loss in the United States related to "intimate partner violence" -- in 1995 dollars -- including health costs and productivity losses.

Five percent of respondents to the 2010 Minnesota Crime Victim Survey, about two-thirds of them women, reported that they had personally experienced domestic violence. These respondents were more likely to have called law enforcement during the applicable period of time but, as the survey acknowledged, not all crime that occurs in Minnesota is reported to police. For victims of domestic abuse, the decision whether to report the violence they experience is often complicated by many factors (shared finances, children, etc.). 

Domestic violence is known to worsen over time, ending, for some victims, in death. The statistics indicate that the time during which victims are most at risk is during separation from their abusive partner or shortly thereafter. The Intimate Partner Homicide Report is a three-decade long project of Violence Free Minnesota (formerly the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women), with the aim of documenting every person killed by a current or former intimate partner.  Certain "lethality factors" are present in a significant number of cases of domestic violence-related homicide, including: previous threats to kill the victim, an abuser's access to firearms, an abuser's history of violence, and the victim's attempts to leave the abuser (Intimate Partner Homicide Report 2018, at 13).

In 2019, 21 people were killed in the state of Minnesota due to domestic violence. According to the Report, at least fourteen women and five bystanders/intervenors were killed. In 2017, 21 women died from intimate partner violence, one child died from relationship abuse, and five bystanders/intervenors were killed. Twenty-three children were left without a parent due to intimate partner homicide. A report released in February 2021, revealed that domestic violence incidents in the U.S. increased by 8.1% following the imposition of lockdown orders during the 2020 pandemic.

Native American women experience a disproportionate level of domestic violence as compared to other groups. In a 2010 study by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, eighty-four percent of Indigenous women reported experiencing violence in their lives. 

Children who grow up in a home environment in which they are exposed to violence against a parent are victims, too. Long-term childhood exposure to violence can cause behavioral, psychological, and physical problems; academic failure; alcohol and substance use; delinquent acts; and a path to adult criminality. This is where we see the lasting negative impact that relationship abuse has on society. It is a serious problem that everyone should feel a responsibility for ending. Please help us answer that call.

For more information on resources to prevent and address domestic violence in Cook County, please contact the Violence Prevention Center at (218) 387-1262. Trained advocates can be reached 24/7 by calling (218) 387-1237.  Domestic Violence Advocate services are also available through Grand Portage Human Services by calling (218) 475-2453. 

To report concerns about child abuse or sexual abuse of a minor, contact Cook County Public Health and Human Services at (218) 387-3620.  If anyone is in immediate risk of harm, please contact law enforcement or dial 911.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service


Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here