Words and Pictures                                                                               4/6/2005

Documenting women's history: Film chronicles

nation's oldest battered women's movement


Michele St. Martin


The first battered women's shelter in Minnesota - possibly in the nation - opened in St. Paul 30 years ago. The women who opened Women's Advocates were pioneers in a new movement that focused on listening to and believing women who said they'd been abused. That burgeoning movement also linked violence in other parts of society to violence against women, and worked to change the legal, institutional and cultural norms that allow domestic abuse to continue.


This year, Terri Hawthorne of St. Paul and Kathleen Laughlin of Minneapolis hope to complete the production of We Will Harbor You, a one-hour film documenting the last 30 years of the battered women's movement in Minnesota. The two women have spent the last seven years doing research and gathering material, including interviews with founders, archival footage of rallies and the national media's coverage of the first shelter opening. They hope the film will generate attention and provide historical background for thinking of new ways to stop domestic violence.


The research and filming were funded by grants and private donations. In order to complete production and editing of the documentary, Hawthorne and Laughlin are hosting a fundraiser featuring food and live music, a 20-minute video trailer and an opportunity to meet founders of the battered women's movement.