MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Statistically speaking, you or someone you know has been affected by domestic violence.
One in four women will suffer abuse from a partner. On occasion, men are also victims. At least 16 Minnesota women were killed by their partners in 2014.READ MORE: 'Heart-Wrenching': Fire At Minneapolis Nonprofit House Of Charity Will Impact Many
There’s a small group of Minnesotans trying to change that number. They help victims take the first step to get out, which can be much more complicated than it sounds.
WCCO shows you how as we introduce you to the this week’s Trees of Hope campaign — SafeJourney .
The blinds are always closed here, and the door is always locked. Raelene Caswell is a volunteer.
“Safety precautions are taken very seriously because we don’t know when a situation like this could escalate,” Caswell said.
But the lifeline, that is always open.
“People are ready to get out of their beds at 4 o’clock in the morning and talk with someone who’s in trouble,” Caswell said.
Caswell is one of those people. She and 99 others are on call. If someone comes into North Memorial Hospital for anything, they are asked if they feel safe at home.
If not, she shows up.
“I say I am an advocate and can I help you, and we talk about safety and what they need,” Caswell said.
Carolyn Cochrane is an advocate, too. Her sister was a victim turned survivor.READ MORE: Bloomington Man Charged With Arson After Allegedly Threatening Ex-Girlfriend, Starting Fire In Her Garage
“My sister’s been out of her relationship now for two years and I’m glad now, I can share what I know with others,” Cochrane said.
She’s learned getting out isn’t that easy.
“In some cases we just listen but for them, being the first time to take that step, telling them how courageous and brave they are and it sometimes gives them just enough confidence to start taking those steps slowly but surely,” Cochrane said.
Mary Katherine is a victim who found refuge with her advocate after 25 years of abuse.
“If it wasn’t for SafeJourney, honestly, I wouldn’t be here. I would have taken those pills because like a lot of women in that situation, I just wanted it to end,” Katherine said.
But she’s started a new life, like so many others.
She credits Suzy Whalen, the groups only full-time employee. Whalen said, “It’s about finding that inner strength, finding that courage, moving on with her life.”
And that’s what they do in this small private place: Listen to secrets and plan for a safer life. Everyone here has a story.
“I’m a survivor so I love doing this work,” Whalen said.
It’s a calling and at SafeJourney, they always answer.MORE NEWS: Police: No Arrests After Stolen Vehicle Hits Multiple Other Cars In St. Paul
SafeJourney is one of very few groups who offer a year of follow-up support for anyone who needs it. If you know anyone who might need their services, or if you’d like to help grow their support network, log on to wcco.com/accomplishmn to learn how to donate to their cause.