Madeline Kingsbury

The Advocacy Center of Winona (ACW) mourns the loss of Madeline Kingsbury, the 12th confirmed victim of domestic violence homicide in MN this year. 

The ACW is the only agency with trained sexual and domestic violence advocates serving Winona County and the surrounding area. Since January 2023, the ACW has served over 300 individuals. That’s approximately 60 individuals per month. 

Unfortunately, the graphic details listed in the Winona Post article and shared widely online are not uncommon in domestic violence cases staff at the ACW encounter daily. Domestic violence is a pattern of control over another person. The actions used to control include any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, education levels, age, race, gender, or religion. 

One of the most dangerous times for victims is when they try to leave because the abuser loses control over their victim. Fundamentally, abuse is about power and control. Strangulation is an extreme form of coercion and control in which an abusive person shows they have the power to determine if their partner will live or die. Often referred to as choking, the most dangerous domestic violence abusers strangle their victims. It is a lethality risk and a felony offense in MN. The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention states that an abuser is 750% more likely to kill their victim if strangulation has been part of the pattern of domestic violence. Many children witness a parent being strangled and some children are strangled as well. In the last 6 months, 30% of the Orders for Protection written with the assistance of ACW staff contained the act of strangulation in the history of relationship abuse.     

It is extremely important to believe and support victims of domestic violence. No one deserves to be abused. If you notice patterns of abuse in someone’s relationship, listen to the victim. Understand that it may not be safe for them to leave. Offer resources for confidential services such as trained domestic violence advocates at the ACW. Do not blame the victim. Victims are in the best position to know what is or is not safe for them. 

When victims interact with child custody, prosecution, law enforcement, Title IX, and other systems, a history of strangulation must be taken seriously. We must fund domestic and sexual violence agencies across the state. We must dispel myths around domestic violence and stop minimizing victim’s experiences.

Trained advocates are available 24-7 at the Advocacy Center of Winona. Call the hotline if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence. 507-452-4453.

Crystal Hegge, Executive Director