Maple Grove Family Raises Domestic Violence Awareness
Nick and Shelly Biessel’s Maple Grove home is a busy place at the end of July. They are preparing to host the annual Bags for Nat Tournament and many of the supplies are stored at their home. The flurry of activity has only grown in the last four years.
“When we started, it was nothing,” explains Shelly. “When wanted to honor Natalie and Love Conquers Violence.”
The couple created the Love Conquers Violence nonprofit to honor the memory of Nick’s sister Natalie.
“You would always see this bright light of sunshine when you see Natalie. That’s who she was,” remembers Shelly.
No one was surprised when Natalie said she wanted to be a doctor and then remained dedicated to becoming one.
“We knew she wanted to be a doctor for a long time,” remembered Nick. “She cared so much about the patients and the people. She wanted to help them.”
But in 2015 while a student in medical school, Natalie’s life was cut far too short. Her boyfriend shot and killed her before killing himself. Text messages in Natalie’s phone revealed an abusive relationship.
“We didn’t learn any of this until cleaning out the house in Tuscon after she was murdered,” said Nick. The family was able to guess the password to get into Natalie’s phone. “That conversation was there, two years’ worth [of text messages]. We read through there and saw the control he had over her and the way he would intimidate and scare her.”
“There was a period of time when we beat ourselves up with why didn’t we see it,” said Shelly. “We don’t always see the signs of domestic violence.”
But the family decided early on that despite the stigma of domestic violence, they wanted to share Natalie’s story.
“We said we wanted a domestic violence presence at the funeral,” remembered Shelly. “We showed up and there was this beautiful Natalie symbol with the butterfly and ‘Love Conquers Violence.”
Love Conquers Violence
That logo was the beginning of the journey to a nonprofit Love Conquers Violence. A year after Natalie’s death, the family organized a fundraiser around a bean bag tournament. They raised more than twenty-thousand dollars and have continued to raise more in the three years since. The money goes toward the Natalie Beissel Scholarship Fund at ATSU, which is where Natalie was attending medical school. It also goes toward the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) in Minneapolis.
“If we can help a family, this is why we do what we do,” said Shelly. “We get to tell Natalie’s story and talk about how awesome she was. We get to talk about Natalie every day, so it’s almost like she’s with us.”
The Bags for Nat fundraiser to toss out domestic violence will be Saturday, August 3 at the Herkimer brewery. To learn more, click here.
To learn more about how to talk to a loved one about suspected domestic violence and getting help, click here.