While answering the phones at St. Paul’s Legal Aid office in the early 1970s, a group of VISTA workers stumbled across an enormous problem. Call after call, women who suffered violence at home had no safe place to go with their kids. Despite the danger, VISTA workers brought families into their own homes. They formed the nonprofit Women’s Advocates and raised enough money to buy a house on Grand Avenue in St. Paul — one of the first shelters in the country for women fleeing domestic violence.
Women’s Advocates is still in operation today. KFAI’s Michelle Bruch talked to some of the women who founded the shelter and some of the survivors who stayed there. Dissertation research by Amanda Jo Dennison contributed to this story.