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Domestic violence homicides at five-year high in Minnesota

There was a noticeable spike during the pandemic in 2020.

At least 30 Minnesotans died as the result of intimate partner violence in 2020 — the highest number in five years. 

That's the finding of a new report by Violence Free Minnesota, a statewide coalition of local programs aimed at combating domestic violence. 

The report — which the group has conducted annually for over 30 years — found that in 2020, at least 20 Minnesota women and at least one man were murdered in "cases where the suspected, alleged, or convicted perpetrator was a current or former intimate partner."

Additionally, at least nine "friends, family members or bystanders" were murdered in domestic violence cases.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 20 minor children were left without a parent due to intimate partner violence, the report says.

The numbers was compiled using public records, though Violence Free Minnesota points out that "there are some victims whose stories are not included because their death was never reported as a homicide, and their trauma never placed within the context of relationship abuse" — meaning the total could be higher than what this year's report found.

The group also notes that "one year's data does not indicate a trend," as the homicide totals "fluctuate and can vary significantly from year to year."

Nonetheless, the 2020 spike — the highest since Violence Free Minnesota's 2015 report, which recorded 33 homicides — came amid a nationwide rise in domestic violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a UC Davis study notes, the social isolation brought about by quarantine played a major role, as "victims and aggressors, or potential aggressors in a relationship, cannot easily separate themselves from each other."

The researchers said that economic instability was also a factor in the increase, with millions of Americans having been struck by mass layoffs in the wake of COVID. 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden proclaimed October National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, calling domestic violence "a pandemic within a pandemic." 

If you know anyone who is affected by domestic violence, you can find more information on services available here, via the Minnesota DPS.

You can also call the Day One Crisis Hotline at 1-866-223-1111.

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