Editors note: The Women’s Shelter and Support Center in Rochester’s 24/7 Crisis Line can be reached at 507-285-1010. Olmsted County Victim Services’ 24/7 Crisis Line can be reached at 507-286-0636. The statewide Minnesota Day One Crisis Line can be reached at 1-866-223-1111 by phone, or 612-399-9995 by text.

In 2019, 21 people had their lives tragically ripped away due to intimate partner violence in Minnesota.

That number is part of the annual Homicide Report Relationship Abuse in Minnesota, published by Violence Free Minnesota. Released on Thursday, the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the report is a staggering reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Already in 2020, at least 22 people have been killed as a result of intimate partner violence.

"Upon hearing these horrifying numbers, the first question is often, are intimate partner homicides trending higher or lower?" Becky Smith, of the statewide coalition Violence Free Minnesota, said Thursday morning. "We recognize no clear patterns of the total number of people killed from year to year. The only consistency we can discern is that numbers have remained in the double digits across three decades and that if and when the number of victims killed due to intimate partner violence remains in the single digits, we will still say one is still too many."

The 21 people include 16 women and five bystanders or interveners. Seven of the 16 women who were killed died from gunshots. Three died from strangulation, and three died in stabbings. But the intimate partner violence doesn’t just affect those who lost their lives as a result. At least 23 minor children and 14 adult children were left without a mother as a result of the violence in 2019, according to data from Violence Free Minnesota.

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Smith said the coalition couldn't determine why there has been an increase in intimate partner violence in 2020, but said that many programs that support survivors are reporting an increase in the severity of abuse they're hearing.

In addition to remembering those who were killed, the report also presents recommendations on policy changes to implement.

Presenting some of those recommendations, Katie Kramer, Violence Free Minnesota's policy director, said the coalition has asked when the Minnesota Department of Health gives grants to health clinics that the department require that the clinics receive training on domestic and sexual violence and reproductive coercion, as well as institute response protocols.

"Domestic violence is a public health issue that has both short- and long-term health impacts on individuals, families and communities," Kramer said.

Another recommendation focuses on local schools and school districts, and the use of school resource officers.

"Each school district that is currently using the school resource officer or SRO model should shift that funding into trauma-supported work that reflects their school population and the communities where they work," Kramer said.

Highlighting the work of Casa de Esperanza, a St. Paul-based national resource center for organizations working with Latinos in the U.S., Kramer said that students need culturally responsive support, resources and trauma services, rather than punitive responses in order to support students' mental, emotional and academic needs.

The use of SROs has become a topic of discussion across the state. The Rochester School Board and the Rochester Police Department met on Tuesday to discuss the topic.

Among the list of those killed so far in 2020 are 23-year-old Keona Foote and her 2-year-old daughter, Miyona Miller. The pair were found dead in their Rochester apartment on Sept. 13.

Renard Carter, 29, is being held in the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center on three counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Foote, Miyona and Foote’s unborn child.

Locally, the Olmsted County Attorney's Office, Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, Rochester Police Department and Olmsted County Victim Services released a video Thursday morning reminder those affected by domestic violence that they are still there to help.