In a year of record homicides in Minnesota, 16 percent of them were domestic violence situations.
At least 30 people have died in such cases, violence-free Minnesota announced Friday in the release of its annual report on the killings.
“The crisis hits harder and harder on those who are already in distress,” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said during a press conference about the findings on the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “The growing tension and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic placed unparalleled pressure on individuals and families.”
The year 2020 brought the most domestic violence-related homicides since 2015, when 33 people were killed in the state, although violence-free Minnesota noted that a trend could not be determined over a year. Based on data from violence-free Minnesota, there were an average of 23 domestic violence-related homicides a year between 2015 and 2019.
The 2020 violence-free Minnesota report reveals:
- 20 women and one man were allegedly murdered by a current or former romantic partner.
- Six families, friends or bystanders were murdered in situations related to domestic abuse.
- Three children under the age of 2 were mortally injured along with their mother.
- Four of the women killed were pregnant.
- At least 20 minor children were left without parents.
- More than 60 percent of the victims were people of color.
“They were sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors,” Flanagan said. “…we keep them in our hearts.”
Widespread attention to the murder of Gabby Pettito, who was last seen with her boyfriend and whose body was discovered in Wyoming, has sparked important conversations, said Maggie Royer, violence-free Minnesota youth and prevention program manager, though she said “We must acknowledge that there are thousands of victims from marginalized communities who go missing or are murdered every year, … whose names never figure in the national conversation.”
The Violence-Free Minnesota Murder Report analyzes four key “lethal factors”—the victim’s attempt to leave the abuser, the suspect’s access to firearms, previous threats to kill, and a history of violence. These factors have been observed in “significant” cases and “when placed in the context of public health, they shape prevention and intervention strategies,” Royer said.
All Housewives highlights the need for continued funding for programs that support relationship abuse and children, according to Violence Free Minnesota, which says financial stability and housing are “sharp barriers to security.” Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women, the organization says, and a 2020 report shows that 20 percent of victims were homeless at some point in their lives.
Overall, Minnesota saw 185 homicides last year, topping the previous record set in 1995, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Appeals Information.
So far this year, violence-free Minnesota has counted 21 known cases of domestic violence-related homicides, including this week in St. Paul and Bloomington.
The Day One Crisis Hotline can be contacted 24 hours a day at 866-223-1111 or people can text the hotline at 612-399-9995.