Domestic Violence Awareness Rally

Posted at: 03/12/2013 9:45 PM
Updated at: 03/12/2013 10:45 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A rally at the Capitol today hoped to draw attention to programs that help domestic violence victims like Dodge Center native Manya Johnson. She was shot, killed, and dismembered by her husband after she announced plans to leave him.

She's one of 8 Minnesota women killed from domestic violence already this year. That's the driving reason why the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women and dozens of groups met with lawmakers today.

We're told places the like Women’s Shelter in Rochester and others all across the state have had to reduce services because of funding cuts. Tuesday, those groups asked lawmakers for $1.5 million to help support these programs.

"She was an artist and a nanny," said mother Sheila Leete. She was at the capitol Tuesday for her daughter. "She was beaten to death by her boyfriend," said Leete. That was just one year ago and Tuesday that mother and many others who've lost friends and family took a stand at the capitol to end violence against women.

It was an effort to get more funding for domestic abuse programs, like the Women's Shelter in Rochester. "We're not able to afford to have those people there. We're not able to staff the shelters and we're not able to do media outreach that we once were able to then with more funding," said Jackie Benoit-Petrich.

While a number of her colleagues were at the capitol Tuesday. Jackie Benoit-Petrich stayed back to attend to the shelter here in Rochester. A place that she once called home. "Early to mid-80's is when I was married and spent 6 different stays here at the Women's Shelter," said Benoit-Petrich.

Now she's helping other women in similar situations. "I stayed here when my child was one and I was in that very room and now she's and adult woman and so I remember those days," said Benoit-Petrich.

A reason why she and mother's like Sheila are fighting to keep these programs a float. "Money needs to be put into the programs," said Leete

It's not just government funding that's been cut recently. Domestic violence groups also rely on charities and donations. Funding from those sources has dropped by 10 to 20 percent in the past two years.