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Domestic violence rallies held in Rochester, over state

Gail Sauter, president-elect of the Women’s Shelter and Support Center, speaks during a rally against domestic violence Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in the Government Center Rotunda in downtown Rochester.

Rochester’s Rally Against Domestic Violence barely filled the Government Center Rotunda on Wednesday, but its impact was echoed across the state.

Attendees filled out postcards to state legislators that supported actions to reduce domestic and sexual violence.

The attendees asked legislators to lift the restrictions on the Minnesota Department of Health that forbid it from researching firearms use.

The postcards also advocated for a task force for missing and murdered indigenous women in Minnesota, and the creation of a sexual assault task force at the state capitol.

Rallies also took place in St. Paul, St. Cloud, Bemidji, Mankato, Marshall, Pine City, and Worthington.


The hashtag #BelieveMN also popped up on social media surrounding the event.

"We believe the survivors of sexual and domestic violence," said Gail Sauter, the president of the Women’s Shelter and Support Center’s board of directors. "We believe we have a responsibility to listen, believe, and take action. … too often, victim-survivors have not been believed."

One in four adult women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime.

"More than 1,000 Minnesotans have been killed in the last 30 years," Sauter said. "We believe every victim deserves the same recognition and commitment from each of us to eliminate sexual and domestic violence from our homes and our communities."

In Minnesota, at least 24 people died because of domestic violence in 2017. The youngest was 17 years old. The oldest was 65.

Two women’s shelter employees read the names of the 19 women and five friends, family members and interveners who died in 2017.

"If we are to end domestic and sexual violence in our communities, we must … listen, we must learn, and we must believe," Souter said.

Council President Randy Staver read a proclamation from Mayor Ardell Brede, who proclaimed March 28, 2018, a day of action against domestic violence.


Terri Allred, the director of community engagement for the Women’s Center, called attention to the Women’s Shelter and Support Center’s name change, which reflects a broader scope of services offered.

The organization offered emergency housing to 223 women and 114 children last year, she said, but served more than 3,000 people with its crisis line, legal assistance, and access to transport, clothing and food.

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