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Shedding light on a dark problem: violence in the home

Supporters at last year's Domestic Violence Walk showed their support for the cause. (Echo Press file photo)

It's time to turn the spotlight on a problem that's too often shrouded in secrecy and shame: domestic violence.

As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Douglas County is joining thousands of communities across the nation in stopping the cycle of abuse.

It happens more often than people like to admit: One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and an estimated 30 to 60 percent of the perpetrators also abuse children in the household.

Someplace Safe of Douglas County, United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN) and WINGS Family Supportive Service are teaming up with other community groups to shed more light on the problem and offer support and help to the victims.

Events, which are all open to the public, include:

--Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence Walk on Tuesday, October 16. Participants will gather at the Douglas County Courthouse for the 5 p.m. walk, which ends at the Calvary Lutheran Church. Free T-shirts and a light supper will be offered following the walk.

The speaker is Connie Nelson, a survivor and domestic violence victims advocate.

--Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon on Wednesday, October 17 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arrowwood Resort Center. Tickets are $15 and available at Bremer Bank, Someplace Safe and WINGS.

The speaker is Mark Wynn, a 21-year member of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department who served as lieutenant to the Domestic Violence Division and was a member of the SWAT team for 15 years.

He has served as an advisor to state, national and international leaders to help guide and shape law and policy on the domestic violence issue and helped form the largest police domestic violence investigative unit in the country.

He is also a survivor of domestic violence, which enables him to teach both effectively and passionately.

Wynn was selected as one of the top 10 police officers in the U.S. by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Parade Magazine.

Wynn is the recipient of 121 commendations and 51 awards and certificates, including the 1995 national Improvement of Justice Award and the 1998 Nashvillian of the Year Award. He recently received the 2012 Family Justice Center Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wynn will also provide training sessions about the topic of domestic and sexual violence on October 17.

The morning session from 9 to 11:15 a.m. will focus on finding and helping the "hidden victims" by teaching participants how to respond to children at the scene and prosecuting domestic violence cases without the victim.

The afternoon session from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. is focused toward law enforcement and will concentrate on victim and officer safety and how to assess threats.

The training is sponsored by United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, the Alexandria Area Community Foundation and Runestone Electric Community Trust. For more information or to register, call Dorie Twist at (320) 763-6638.

--A free women's self-defense class, "Conquering Fear of Violence," on Wednesday, October 24 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Schutz Tai Kwon Do Academy, 1910 Aga Drive in Alexandria.

It's being organized in conjunction with Schutz Martial Arts Association and Someplace Safe. To register, call (320) 761-9008 or e-mail

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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