St. Paul leaders working to make city a 'safe haven' for domestic violence survivors

St. Paul leaders joined the St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project for Thursday's event. (FOX 9)

St. Paul leaders Thursday issued a proclamation to support those affected by domestic violence as part of an event recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the city.

"At one point he slapped me so hard that I remember feeling a mistaken moment of relief believing that the police were coming because I was seeing flashing lights," said Jennifer, a victim of domestic violence.

The stories are horrifying, for those that live to tell them. In 2018 in Minnesota, there were 14 domestic violence homicides. One of them was in August in St. Paul when a woman was stabbed fifteen times by her husband.

But there is a big, ongoing effort to change things. In St. Paul, there is strong collaboration between the city, the county, and the St. Paul Intervention Project, all of them working hard to end it.

"I want everybody to think of domestic violence every minute of every day of the entire year," said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell.

In July of this year, a 27-year-old woman was found dead in her Frogtown home; her 27-year-old ex-boyfriend is charged with the shooting. Acts of violence like that have leaders focused on ways to take guns away from domestic abusers.

"We need the legislature to pass red flag laws this next spring so that we can make sure we’re taking guns out of the hands of potential domestic violence offenders," said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

The proclamation by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, declaring the city a safe haven for domestic violence victims, is a comfort to survivors like Jennifer.

"This day revealed to me that I was not going to live in this type of hell on earth," Jennifer explained. "And it became clear that I had to expose this horrible part of my life to the public."

In 2014, Minnesota passed a law that requires perpetrators of domestic abuse to turn over their firearms. But since 2015, only eight percent have done so. Earlier this month, the city attorney said they were launching a task force to better oversee the program.