Fleeing violence at 9° above zero

One bitterly cold January night in 2018, more than 1,000 Minnesotans were spending the night on the run from domestic violence. The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women used this letter to build support for those who have no safe place to call home.


Liz Richards, executive director of MCBW

Liz Richards, executive director of MCBW

Dear friend,

I’m writing to you from my home — the place where I feel most safe, secure and comfortable in the world. I hope you feel the same way wherever you call home! Maybe it’s because our winters are so cold: Minnesotans understand the importance of home better than most. In recent years, our state has made real strides in combating homelessness.

Home means safety, security and comfort. If you have nowhere to feel safe, you have no home, even if you have a roof over your head. Most victims of domestic violence aren’t living on the streets — but no victim of domestic violence truly has a home.

Home means safety, security and comfort. If you have nowhere to feel safe, you have no home

At MCBW, we are determined to end domestic violence in Minnesota. Our 93 member agencies statewide tell us that, tragically, it’s often easier to find help and support for victims of domestic violence and their families once they’ve lost all shelter. People at homeless shelters are visible to social services, and we know how to help once people arrive there.

But from 40 years’ experience, we at MCBW know that many women and children are trapped in violent households, or surviving in precarious shelter — not homeless, but without homes. To end domestic violence in Minnesota, we have to reach those people too.

The night of January 24, 2018, more than 50 of our member agencies across Minnesota set out to count people across the state who were attempting to flee domestic violence.

The low temperature in Saint Paul was 9° above zero, with ice fog.

That night, we counted 1,092 people attempting to flee domestic violence in Minnesota.

  • Half of them were trapped in an abusive household.

  • Most of the rest were relying on the kindness of friends or family for a temporary refuge.

  • Forty of those Minnesotans were spending the night in a car.

  • Three hundred were children.

On just one bitterly cold night this year, we counted more than a thousand Minnesotans who wanted to escape an abusive home, but had nowhere to go.

That’s where you come in.

  • Without your support, MCBW couldn’t count those 1,092 Minnesotans trying to flee from violence. They’d still be hidden in the shadows, invisible to anyone who might be able to help.

  • Without your support, our 93 member agencies statewide couldn’t give those 1,092 Minnesotans the resources they need to escape domestic violence.

  • Without your support, we couldn’t advocate on their behalf at the Minnesota legislature, in city halls and county buildings all over the state.

Your gift can help a Minnesota family begin the journey home.

You’ve supported MCBW in the past, and for that I am deeply grateful. Small contributions make all the difference in the world for the women and families we serve. Look:

  • Security. For $250, a survivor installed a home security system so she could feel safe at home again.

  • Freedom. For $350, a survivor rekeyed her car after abuser stole the keys.

  • A new home. For $600, a survivor put down a security department for a safe apartment — and a new life.

Will you give $365 today—just one dollar a day—to help a Minnesota family begin the journey home? Whatever you can afford will make a difference. You can donate here.

From my home to yours,

Liz Richards

Executive Director, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women