So far this year, 17 women have been killed in domestic violence incidents in Minnesota.
Last month, one of those victims was Terri Lee of Washington County. Lee's story received wide media attention in part because her ex-boyfriend violated court ordered protections designed to keep Lee safe.
But there is plenty of domestic violence that never makes the news. State statistics indicate domestic violence victims account for more than one quarter of all victims of violent crime.
Last year, just in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, police received about 40,000 domestic-violence related calls.
Given the scale of the problem, a group of St. Paul legal, public safety, and advocacy organizations say Ramsey County needs a more collaborative and efficient support system to help victims.
Shelley Johnson Cline is Executive Director of the Saint Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, one of the organizers of a new service center for victims of abuse.
Johnson Cline says right now women who are subject to domestic violence have to make their way to a variety of agencies to receive help.
"We'll have that one place where someone can walk in," she says, "and they can meet with the police, they can meet with the city attorney, they can meet with an advocate, they can meet with someone who understands the culture they're coming from, the language that they speak, and that can also address the needs of their children and their broader family."
It's an incubator space where these different agencies are there collaborating for the benefit of the residents of St. Paul.Luz Frias, St. Paul Mayor's office
The center is loosely based on a similar program in Hennepin County, one of only a few such centers in the country.
All of the roughly 40 agencies participating in the St. Paul center will bear the cost of staffing it.
The center will be inside the 1930s art deco building in downtown St. Paul that houses the Ramsey County Courts and Saint Paul city government. Weapons screening at the building entrances is one of the top reasons advocates say victims will be comfortable with the City Hall location.
Norma Renville is a founding member of the center. She says a survey of domestic abuse victims shaped the services the new center will offer.
"The survey was able to provide us with information about what services were important," Renville says, "about location, about transportation, about any barriers there may exist in getting to a service center."
The center will be on the first floor of City Hall. The entrance to the space has vaulted ceilings and marble floors.
Luz Frias is a top advisor in St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's administration and is helping to bring the service center to St. Paul.
"For lack of a better word, it's an incubator space," Frias says, "where these different agencies are there collaborating for the benefit of the residents of St. Paul."
Advocates say they've been working for the past two and a half years to convince city and county officials to collaborate on a service center. Legal Aid attorney James Street says he was gratified when Mayor Coleman mentioned the need for a center in his State of the City speech and is now helping to make it a reality.
"It is an excellent symbol to the victims in St. Paul and Ramsey County that we as a community are committed to ending domestic violence," Street says. "And when this place opens up it's going to be an amazing thing to see. It'll be revolutionary."
Officials will work out details for the center over the next several months. The opening is slated for sometime next summer.