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Handling domestic violence cases; Rochester attorney and police officer share experiences, advice

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — As Rochester community continues to mourn the death of a pregnant woman named Keona Foote, and her 2-year-old daughter, Miyona Miller, the tragic incident is reminding many to help end domestic violence.

The mother and daughter were both killed by the mother’s ex-boyfriend.

Family Law Attorney Jill Frieders has represented many female and male victims of domestic violence.

“Not all that long ago I represented a woman who was in her 80s. And we were in the process of getting her an Order of Protection. But her elderly husband who has been horribly abusive during their marriage fell and ended up in the hospital and got transitioned to assisted living,” she said.

Frieders said one of the best tools to separate abusers from victims is by getting an Order of Protection.

“So an Order of Protection really requires physical abuse or threat to physical abuse. But I have seen other things like sleep deprivation is a form of abuse that I see, that you can’t get protection against. Financial abuse, most certainly,” she said.

She said these orders are frequently for one to two years, but in extreme cases it can be for 50 years. There’s a lot that goes in to a judge’s decision.

“After the evidence is given in court, then the judge will decide whether or not there was domestic abuse. And if so, what kind of remedy is appropriate,” said Frieders. “Should the abuser be removed from the home? Should the court award custody? Should the abuser have parenting time?”

She said Minnesota law states that if someone violates an order of protection three times, it becomes a felony.

As much of an important role she plays in supporting victims, police officers are usually the first on the scene.

“There’s several domestic calls a day that officers are going on. Rarely a day goes by where we don’t make a domestic assault arrest. And on the weekends it’s not unusual to have two or three people in custody for domestic assaults,” said Lt. James Evenson, of the Rochester Police Department.

He said officers are trained to understand how victims navigate around an abusive relationship, and the department does its part to provide support and protection.

“Trying to make victims understand there is help. There is a way out. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of the relationship, but there is help to end the abuse,” Evanson said.

Frieders said in some cases abusers attend classes to stop the abuse.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says on average 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.

The Women’s Shelter and Support Services is a great resource for victims and they’re families. The crisis line is 507) 285-1010.

The organization supports women and men in domestic violence situations.

KaMaria Braye

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