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Editorial: Community needs dialogue about violence

Domestic violence affects many people in our community and it's time to bring attention to it.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time to call attention to the problem. It's not just a concern for those who are a victim or abuser - it's something the entire community should be concerned about.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

More and more, people are talking about domestic abuse. It's important to continue communicating and not pushing the issue under the rug.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone and can be physical or emotional.

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women has worked on legislative efforts in the last year to pass the Domestic Violence Omnibus Bill, a bill that enhances the criminal justice system's ability to protect victims of domestic violence. The bill was passed without opposition in both the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor on May 10, 2010.

This is a great step in helping victims of domestic violence in our state. Other landmarks have been made over the years as well.

Congress's commitment to improving the response to domestic and sexual violence has made a significant difference in the lives of victims. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), enacted in 1984, has been the foundation of the response to domestic violence victims, including shelters and outreach programs across the country.

Another piece of legislation, the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), first authorized in 1994, has changed the way federal, tribal, state and local entities respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Let's keep up the dialogue about domestic violence in the community.

If you need help, talk to a friend or someone you trust. The 24-hour crisis line is 800-939-2199. Locally, the Headwaters Intervention Center has resources available. People can also find out about ways to help and reach out to those who need help. The number is 732-7413.