Emily had never had much luck in love. She went from one emotionally abusive relationship to the next, and eventually, they always became physically abusive. She never dreamed she’d get married, buy a home, or have a daughter until she reconnected with someone from high school. He wasn’t physically abusive. That is one thing he never did. Later in their relationship, she would use this to justify his behavior.
“He didn’t hit me like my other boyfriends did. He didn’t throw me at elevators or push me down stairs.”
But before she knew it, her fairy-tale was starting to look more like a nightmare. His underlying drinking problem was getting out of control, and there was no hiding it. She remembers going down to wake her husband up from a drunken nap and slipping all over his vomit. He woke in a rage, and she found herself on the phone with the police, scared for her life. She had hoped that things would change when she became pregnant with their daughter, but they only became worse. Her husband was drinking and depressed—and one day decided to put a loaded gun to his head. She pleaded with him to put the gun down, and in the process, the gun dropped to the floor and went off. She knew she had to draw the line there. She told him if he ever touched a gun again that she’d leave him for good. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think she’d find herself standing out on her front lawn while cops surrounded her house as her husband held a gun to his head, threatening her and her daughter from the inside.
“It was like a strange movie. I was so overwhelmed and couldn’t believe this was happening. I tried to stay calm because I had this tiny baby in my arms.”
For months, Emily feared opening doors because she pictured her husband on the other side with a loaded gun. She believes if she would have stayed, he would have shot her and her daughter, and then himself. With the help of Alexandra House, Emily obtained a restraining order against her husband and filed for divorce. She had an advocate with her when she went to court, and it was comforting to have someone there with her, letting her know what resources she had available to her. It’s incredibly hard for anyone struggling with abuse when there are limited friends or family to rely on for support.
“My Alexandra House advocate was helpful, non-judgmental, and created a calm environment for me.”
Emily’s daughter gave her the strength to refuse to tolerate the abuse any longer. Because of the support she received from Alexandra House, she sold her home and found a new job. She was able to move on and build a new life of safety and security for her and her daughter. She wanted her daughter to grow up, knowing that her mom would always fight for her and herself.
Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women 44 years and under. Nearly half of victims are killed by a current or former intimate partner. Sixty-five to 80% of female intimate partner homicide victims were previously abused by the partner who killed them, making domestic violence the single largest risk factor for intimate partner femicide. In Minnesota, at least 15 women were murdered by a current or former intimate partner in 2019. From November 2006 through February 2011, 11 women died in domestic homicides in Anoka County, more women at the time, per capita, than anywhere else in the Twin Cities. Studies have also shown that relationship abuse increases during natural disasters. Unraveling social networks, loss of income, lack of access to medical care, and overall scarcity heightens stress during disasters, which can leave people experiencing abuse, especially vulnerable. Programs working to end relationship abuse provide critical support in times of crisis and are integral to communities’ health and safety across the state. Domestic violence services are vital to ensuring the public safety of all communities across Minnesota. We’re so grateful for the community that has funded, volunteered, celebrated, and advocated for Alexandra House through the years. When everything feels uncertain, we find comfort and encouragement, knowing that you care about ending domestic and sexual violence. As the coronavirus continues to creep across the globe and governments respond with social control measures, domestic violence victims, most often women, face a double threat: a virus outside and an abuser at home. Regardless of this public health crisis, domestic violence programs continue to be on the front lines of supporting our most vulnerable community members. Our mission to empower victims of domestic and sexual violence, and inspire social change, through education, support, and advocacy will not stop. Now more than ever, Alexandra House is relying on our community to ensure we are here to serve those who need us most.
If you have not made a year-end contribution to Alexandra House, please consider joining our Luminary Society. Joining the Alexandra House Luminary Society, our treasured community of monthly donors, is the safest, simplest, and most effective way to support domestic and sexual violence victims as we adapt to ever-changing circumstances due to COVID-19. While all of us are facing significant challenges, we hope you can find some peace knowing that because of your generosity, you are creating a community of support, a safe way forward, and a future free from violence. The critical support of sustained giving will enable us to continue to serve our community and ensure that survivors like Emily can build safer and more stable lives we, together, take a step closer to a future free from violence. However you choose to give, it is deeply appreciated and will help strengthen our community so that we may, one day, see an end to domestic violence. Please take a moment to make your contribution today. If you have given recently, thank you so much for your support!
As you consider the size of your year-end gift, please think about the magnitude of the challenge our community is facing:
- Domestic violence is the 2nd most common person-based crime in Minnesota
- Nationally, 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of severe physical violence by an intimate partner
- Among families, domestic violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness