ST. CLOUD -- Reducing domestic violence and improving the safety of victims and their families requires a collaborative effort.

In 2008, Stearns County created the Domestic Violence Court to better monitor repeat felony offenders and provided multiple legal services for victims.

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Ann Cofell is with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. She says when they have that initial conversation with the victim, the focus isn't about ending the relationship.

Right at that moment their life is pretty chaotic, so they may not be in a position of wanting to end a relationship. But they are worrying about how they are going to afford child care, or how they will pay rent. They are thinking about those issues.

Cofell says once items like housing, medical assistance and child support are addressed, it isn't uncommon for victims to reach out to take that next step.

She says because of the resources available, victims have been more successful in walking away from their dangerous relationships.

Some of the stigma of being a victim has moved to that realization of being a survivor. They are more comfortable reaching out to know their options and choices so they are able to make informed decisions as they move forward to safety.

Cofell says it can often time take victims on their own seven attempts before they finally leave their abuser, without immediate access to legal services.

She says the formation of the Domestic Violence Court has been valuable in improving the services, coordination and partnerships needed to end the cycle of violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Coming up on Tuesday we will talk about the community advocacy support for domestic abuse victims.


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