Taking a Look at Domestic Violence in Fargo-Moorhead
Both the YWCA's Emergency Shelter and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center's phone line are open 24 hours
FARGO, N.D. — Within the last week, Moorhead has had two standoffs.
Police say they began with a woman becoming assaulted by her partner.
But domestic violence doesn’t just happen overnight.
“It might start out as a ‘I’m doing this out of love or out of care for you or of concern. I can do this for you, you don’t need to do this for yourself or maybe you’re not really good at this and so I’ll take care of this for you,” said Mel Firestine, program education director at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.
Instead, Firestine says it’s when those small assertions of control happen over time and then people begin to withdraw from their relationships with friends and family.
Partners can later become abusive, but some say picking up and leaving isn’t as simple as it sounds.
“Often times people say ‘oh why don’t women leave.’ the better question is why are people abusing them? But in addition to that, they feel financially trapped and have nowhere else to go,” said Erin Prochnow, YWCA CEO. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, women have suffered financial abuse in addition to the physical harm that’s been caused so they feel trapped financially to their situation.”
Just last year, 17 women in one of the YWCA of Cass and Clay’s housing programs paid off a collective $41,000 in debt. But not necessarily everyone wants to leave either.
“It’s a common misconception that everyone in a domestic violence situation is wanting to flee, can flee or that it is safe to. As we know, a lot of times when people try to leave these situations, the lethality raises dramatically,” Firestine said.
Fargo’s Rape and Abuse Crisis Center says it sees close to 3,000 people a year but Firestine says about 60 percent are seen for domestic violence.
But that doesn’t even cover all the domestic violence survivors in the Fargo–Moorhead area.
Of the 1,300 women and children the YWCA provided emergency shelter to in 2018, Prochnow says 91 percent are victims of abuse.
“There’s a whole lot of signals you can look for and the best thing that you can do is to help that person understand that you understand what’s happening, that you want to be that support and to talk about what safety looks like for them and start creating a safety plan,” Prochnow said.
“The number one thing that we can do when we see others hurting is just say hey, I’m just checking in with you. How are you doing,” Firestine said.
If you are in a life threatening situation, call police.