- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Sixteen-year-old Anna Hurd was stabbed when she was trying to break up with her boyfriend. A pregnant Margorie Holland told her husband she wanted a divorce before she was strangled and thrown down the stairs. Kira Steger had divorce papers in her car when she went missing - her badly beaten body found months later in a river.

The three women were among the 37 people killed last year in Minnesota as a result of domestic violence involving a current or former intimate partner, according to a report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered women.

The coalition releases its Femicide Report each year to remember those who have died, raise awareness and promote ways to reduce domestic violence through community response and legislation.

“Safety must be a priority and recognized as a core issue at the Legislature and beyond,” said Rebeckah Moses, the coalition’s program manager in public policy. “We are all impacted: in our workplaces, schools, homes, courts and community.”

While domestic violence can exist between siblings, parents and children, or other relationships, this report tracks only those homicides in which the known or suspected perpetrator was a current or former intimate partner.

The data includes the number of family members, friends and others who were killed while intervening in an intimate-partner domestic violence situation, and since 1993 it has included those killed as a result of prostitution or sex trafficking.

Of the 37 deaths last year, 24 women and seven men were killed by current or former partners. Six friends or family members were killed.

Fifteen of the 24 women who died were murdered after the woman left the relationship or when she was attempting to leave. The statistic supports studies that show one of the most dangerous times for battered women is when they try to leave a relationship, the report said.

The report also said that 17 of the 37 deaths, or 46 percent, were committed with firearms.

“When there is a history of domestic violence, we should be looking at the question of access to firearms,” the report said.

Two pieces of legislation have been filed in Minnesota to help keep victims of domestic violence safe. One would give victims a right to be notified of an offender’s location after his or her release from prison. The other increases the ability of police to arrest domestic violence suspects who have fled the scene of a crime.

In addition to looking at risk factors, the report also makes recommendations for change. Among them, it says that comprehensive screening for domestic violence should become routine anytime a victim or abuser encounters the courts, housing, medical and mental health systems, or other programs.

“Our challenge to the community is to not let these deaths go unnoticed but rather to use these brutal murders as a springboard for action,” the report said.

The 2013 number is up from 2012, when 18 people were killed in Minnesota as a result of domestic violence by an intimate partner.

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