DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: October Brings Awareness

It’s still hard for Savannah Ruhnke to page through old newspaper articles.

On this day 25-years ago in Plymouth, Savannah Ruhnke was only a baby when her step-father murdered her mother.

“They found that he was drunk at the time of the murder so between alcohol and his rage everything kind of spiraled to what it came out to be,” says Ruhnke.

At the time of the murder, Ruhnke’s mother was trying to escape from the abuse.

However, abuse experts say leaving is rarely successful. Marie Harvey works for the Domestic Sexual Assault Outreach Center in Fort Dodge, she says victims usually try to flee seven or eight times.

Harvey says leaving an abuser is difficult, “part of the time it’s much safer to be with the perpetrator to know what their mindset is because one you leave you have no idea what’s going through his head.”

If victims want to leave from an abusive relationship, Harvey says they need to have a plan. “If they [victims] plan on leaving to let people know they’re planning on leaving.” She also says victims need to gather important documents.

Ruhnke says she doesn’t want to dwell on the abuse but instead learn from it and inspire others.

“You can overcome it. They say there’s a cycle; If you’re raised in a violent situation that a lot of times you will end up the same. I’m a survivor. I picked the right path. I’m glad to say I’ve overcome that cycle.”


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