What We Can Do Together About Gender-Based Violence: March 25 Event Highlights

Thanks to Family Tree Clinic for being a March 25 event sponsor and underwriter of our gender-based violence coverage



Insiders think Minnesota is still a few years away from having enough support to pass the Survivors Justice Act. Can the Survivor Justice Act be passed sooner to have traumatic backgrounds be taken into account in criminal situations, as is happening for veterans?

What else are grassroots advocates hoping to see change in Minnesota policy and support, such as supportive housing policy?

“We interviewed 62 Native American women who had been incarcerated in Minnesota’s women’s prison. All but one of those women disclosed histories of domestic abuse and sexual assault prior to incarceration.” 

— Nikki Engel, Violence Free Minnesota

All photographs by Sarah Whiting, Minnesota Women’s Press

CeMarr Peterson, The Link, and Artika Roller, executive director, MNCASA
Deneal Trueblood-Lynch, “Secrets” playwright and Guadalupe Lopez, executive director, Violence Free Minnesota

VIDEO: Kissy Coakley — founder of Kissy’s Stay Put services, described the work she does with women in Minnesota who have been traumatized by domestic violence or sexual assault and are facing incarceration or attempting re-entry because of it

Solutions for Healing and Change

How can we begin to create healing and actual change in Minnesota, for both survivors and offenders?

Can we support men in redefining masculinity?

Patricia Cumbie of Global Rights for Women
Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith of MN350

Jon Heath — men’s group facilitator of the Pathways to Family Peace, a program of Global Rights for Women alongside Melissa Scaia, described the work and transformation opportunities of offenders

Next Steps

Click for a story about how transformative justice works
Michele Braley of Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice: Can restorative justice be part of the process of holding perpetrators accountable and preventing violent behavior? How do we develop a better system for responding to assault and domestic violence that does not rely primarily on involving law enforcement? How can these programs get funded?

Leah Robshaw Robinson of Friends for a Nonviolent World brought a team with the Alternatives to Violence Project that leads workshops that create change with incarcerated people who were locked into patterns of committing violence.

Alternatives to Violence Project facilitators talked about violent backgrounds that changed into non-violent leadership


Diane Rosenfeld, author of “The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance,” described a pilot program of the Bonobo Sisterhood Alliance that we will develop collectively in Minnesota with community partners using our new Values & Vision media platform to amplify statewide conversations, story sharing, solutions, and action steps.

Our gender-based violence discussions will continue, if we have the underwriting and member support. Topics we also would like to discuss in the future:

  • Can we adjust the mandatory arrest law so that victims of trauma are not arrested?
  • Given the number of times firearms are used in domestic violence situations, why aren’t we tracking whether offenders have guns? How do we change that Minnesota statute?
  • Where are the needs greatest for housing to protect survivors?

Diane Rosenfeld’s Bonobo Sisterhood Alliance

In our inaugural Values & Vision Zoom conversation, Minnesota Women’s Press outreach director Crystal Brown explained: “The idea behind the Bonobo Sisterhood is that everybody is your sister, whether you know her, whether you like her, whether you are related to her. When a call goes out — if a woman needs housing, in whatever type of violent situation she happens to be in — she has women around her who support and go with her, whether it is to the courtroom, to fill out paperwork, to feel safe when she is moving if the perpetrator is still there. She’s not alone in in her journey of feeling safe.

“In terms of the housing piece, it is also about having a detainment center for perpetrators, a kind of pre-prison, pre-jail, pre-court space so that the woman and her children can stay in the house and figure things out. Men would be evaluated, they would get mental health support, they would still be able to work so that they’re still paying for home and children expenses.”

Reproductive Health Care Freedom (story coming)

Rev. Kelli Clement and Rep. Esther Agbaje had a conversation with Changemakers Alliance outreach director Crystal Brown (left to right) about next steps in securing Minnesota as a safe haven for reproductive health care — beyond safeguards from the new PRO Act . Rep. Agbaje’s Reproductive Freedom Defense Act will protect patients seeking health care in Minnesota, including visitors from other states.

Thanks to our underwriter, Family Tree Clinic, and event sponsors that included Canvas Health, ERA MN, Sabrina Fay/Confetti financial

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