Community members and those affected by domestic violence solemnly walked to the intersection of Rockford Road and Northwest Boulevard in Plymouth. Nine months earlier Trisha Nelson’s life was taken by her longtime partner at that location. It was at that site where Trisha’s sister, Tanya Fure, laid a cross-shaped wreath in her memory.
“Breaking the Silence: A Walk for Hope,” an interdenominational vigil, took place Oct. 9 at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was hosted in partnership with the Domestic Violence Awareness and Action team of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Maple Grove, which spreads a zero-tolerance message for abuse.
The fourth annual vigil was an opportunity for the community to remember the pervasiveness of domestic violence and that domestic violence does not discriminate, explained Dawn Strommen, an event committee member and a licensed psychologist with Reimann Counseling Clinic who works with domestically abused women.
Strommen heard Fure speak at a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Anoka in May and found it appropriate to have Fure speak at this year’s vigil.
“We needed to walk to where (Trisha) was killed, because it was literally in our backyard,” Strommen said.
According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, at least 34 Minnesotans were killed due to violence from a current or former intimate partner in 2015. Four more cases were being reviewed at the time the report was released. The total includes 22 women, three men, and nine interveners.
For Fure, this was another opportunity to share her sister’s story in hopes of saving others from the same pain she and her family have endured, along with educating others and eliminating the shame that surrounds domestic violence.
“There were little hints that it was an unhealthy relationship, but obviously I didn’t know it was as bad as it truly was,” Fure said of her sister.
While she said it’s easy to think about what more she could’ve done “You can’t go back, you can only change the future,” she said.
Out of her own grief, Fure became motivated to help others.
“I needed to make sure (Trisha’s) story did not die at that intersection with her,” Fure said. “We need to be the voice for too many who no longer have a voice and help their stories become the strength for another to say ‘I’m not going to be next.’”
During the event, Fure shared her sister’s story. “The man she loved ran her over with her car, then shot her in a horrific act of domestic violence. She was a unique soul, with colorful hair and hobbies most wouldn’t understand, but that didn’t change the selfless love she had inside,” Fure said, listing off her love for animals and helping others. “She loved the man who took her life like an animal hunted for sport.”
Fure explained how the abuse happened slowly over time, how he tried to control her sister – comments he would make over what she was wearing or always deciding the restaurants they would go to.
“She wasn’t even allowed to spend Christmas with us because he said ‘no,’” Fure said.
Oftentimes, victims of domestic violence don’t speak out due to shame, Fure said, adding that her hope is to give victims the strength to leave and find help.
She would like to change things through education and awareness. Fure said it’s important to “stop teaching our girls that the reason the boy teasing her or pulling her hair is because he likes her.”
It’s also important to teach the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships and to talk about domestic violence to eliminate the shame surrounding it, she said. “I want domestic violence to be taken out of the dark and brought into the light.”
“Together, we can help survivors feel proud they found the strength to leave,” Fure concluded.
Healthy versus unhealthy relationships
To help distinguish a healthy relationship over an unhealthy relationship, Strommen recommends the CAPER and CERTS health check.
An unhealthy relationship can be defined using the CAPER acronym.
C- is for control
A- is for anger
P- is for power
E- is for entitlement
R- is for revenge
“If anyone is chronically experiencing these dynamics in a relationship, it’s unhealthy,” Strommen said. This can be taken into account for any relationship, Strommen said, including high school friendships.
A healthy relationship will resemble CERTS.
C- is for consent (ie. mutual consent in decision)
E- is equality
R – is for respect
T – is for trust
S – is for safety
“A person needs to feel safe emotionally, verbally, physically and sexually with someone who is their friend, dating partner or spouse,” Strommen explained.
“All five really need to be working together for it to be a healthy relationship,” she added.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women is a membership organization with more than 80 member programs located throughout Minnesota carrying out programming that advances women’s safety and security. MCBW’s mission is to provide a voice for battered women and member programs; challenge systems and institutions so they respond more effectively to the needs of battered women and their children; promote social change; and support, educate, and connect member programs.
Contact: website: www.mcbw.org, 24-hour phone line: 866-223-1111
Home Free is based in Plymouth and provides battered women with immediate safety and the opportunity to explore alternatives to living with a violent partner. Emergency housing, advocacy and support services are available at the shelter for up to 30 women and their children. Women’s and children’s advocates provide information and resources, supporting the decisions each woman makes and providing specific programming for children. Advocacy and support services are available to women living in the community through the Home Free Community Program.
For more information, speak with an advocate at 763-559-9008, or call the 24-hour crisis line at 763-559-4945.
To contact Tanya Fure for speaking engagements, call 507-318-2767 or email [email protected]
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, 888-743-5754 (888-7HELPLINE) or www.dahmw.org.
To help break the silence around domestic violence, consider joining the Domestic Violence Awareness and Action team. Contact Susan Rivard at 612-247-4428 or Jane Warren at 763-494-5528 or [email protected] for more information.
Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]