Nonprofit spotlight: Domestic violence touches many lives

Farm Forum

Gina Karst is executive director of Safe Harbor in Aberdeen.

Domestic violence is real in our community. It has no economic or social status; it exists no matter a person’s stature in the community.

Domestic violence is not limited to only physical assault and it is not limited to only married people.

By South Dakota Codified Law, domestic abuse is “physical harm, bodily injury, or attempts to cause physical harm or bodily injury, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm or bodily injury between family or household members. Any violation of 25-10-13 or chapter 22-19A or any crime of violence as defined in subdivision 22-1-2(9) constitutes domestic abuse if the underlying criminal act is committed between family or household members; (2) ‘Family or household members,’ spouses, former spouses, or persons related by consanguinity, adoption, or law, persons living in the same household, persons who have lived together, or persons who have had a child together.”

No matter what term we want to use for all the forms of domestic violence, abuse is abuse is abuse — it is not healthy, it is not fair, it is a cowardly act, it is wrong.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness, which is when Safe Harbor gets as much information out to the community as possible regarding all the forms of abuse. As a domestic violence agency, we have worked with victims of elder abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and harassment . . . basically all forms of abuse.

Our agency knows that there are many victims in our community because we have seen a 15 percent increase in our numbers, and I am sure that there are many more yet to come.

Recently, I attended a conference on human trafficking, and it was yet another eye-opening experience to the extent of the abuse that our children and young adults are enduring. The average age of a person coerced into prostitution is 13 years old.

Human trafficking is the second or third (depending on which statistic we look at) largest organized crime in the United States and is a $33.9 billion “business.”

This crime is occurring in our community, the pimps (or talent agents as they like to be called) do live in our community and they are luring our children into this heinous world.

In honor of the nationally recognized month of Domestic Violence Awareness, Safe Harbor has placed what are called Silent Witnesses — wood silhouettes of a female, that has information regarding domestic violence — in local businesses. There are “Don’t Sweep Domestic Violence Under the Rug” vinyl floormats at Inspire, Kathleen’s, Northern Student Center, Sanford emergency department, Odde Ice Arena, Revive Day Spa and more to come.

“Purple Day” is Thursday; wear purple and send your pictures to, then we will post these pictures on Facebook.

If you would like to learn more information regarding any or all forms of abuse, you can contact our office at 605-226-1212,, or