Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes in the United States. Although the rate has dropped by 64 percent between 1994 and 2010, it is still an issue that affects many people, including Minnesotans. Sadly one in four women in America will be a victim of domestic violence. There are still many things that can be done to continue to reduce that number.

Domestic violence is defined as violence committed by one family or household member against another. Domestic violence can occur between married couples, straight and same-sex, as well as boyfriend-girlfriend couples. In cases of domestic violence, victims have legal options to help protect themselves and loved ones such as children from the alleged abuser. For example, one could seek an order of protection from the court to secure protection against the abuser and help dictate temporary custody of any children involved. Often, these orders can be granted on a temporary basis without a court appearance. A hearing will then be held within 7 days, where the order could be extended depending on the facts of a specific case.

In 2004 there were 2,681 domestic assaults cases in Minnesota, 113 of them leading to felony charges against the offender. Many of these cases involve a failing marriage where one spouse – usually the female – cannot escape or is often too afraid to press charges. Luckily there has been a big shift in public awareness about domestic violence to reduce this number even more.

The number of domestic violence charges is dropping, but unfortunately it is still happening. As Minnesotans, it’s important to increase public awareness of the issue and help people who are victims to seek out advice and take action.

Source: Alaska Dispatch, “In US, domestic violence numbers dropping,” Whitney Eulich, Feb. 14, 2013