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Violence Free Minnesota Finds Help For Domestic Abuse Survivors

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Three women in the Twin Cities were killed recently in separate incidents and it's possible at least two were domestic violence related.

Now a local advocacy group wants to make sure people in or already out of abusive relationships have a plan to get help.

Each face has its own story but all unfortunately share the same end. The pictures on Violence Free Minnesota's website showcase women, men, and children killed this year in Minnesota in what's categorized as "domestic violence homicide." There's been at least 13 such victims so far.

"We have been tracking domestic violence homicides in the state for over 30 years now," said Becky Smith, communications director of VFMN.

The organization tracks the tragic statistic through its We Remember campaign, a list that may grow as details over recent homicides are revealed.

The most recent confirmed case was in Robbinsdale when Lauri Anne Deatherage was killed by her ex-husband just days after she remarried.

Since then, a man was arrested after a woman was found dead in a home with children nearby in Brooklyn Center.

Another woman was found dead outside a daycare in Lakeville. The suspect in that case admitted to police that he killed his best friend.

"Separation or leaving, that can increase the chances of homicide. But that doesn't mean someone shouldn't leave," said Smith.

VFMN connects victims with 90 programs across the state, helping people come up with a safety plan, get housing, and find financial independence.

It all starts with a phone call they hope victims have the courage to make, along with loved ones ready to support them.

"Tell someone you trust about what's happening in your relationship. Connect with an advocate so that you can make a safety plan," said Smith.

In 2020, VFMN identified 30 domestic violence homicides. Smith said the number has always reached double digits since they started tracking the cases. Last year, they noticed a trend during the pandemic.

"The times in which survivors were reaching out, they were reporting a severity in violence. So that meant survivors were waiting until things got very difficult to reach out for services," she said.

VFMN has a 24-hour hotline ready to offer help. The number is 866-223-1111. You can also text 612-399-9995.

To learn more about VFMN, click here.

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