Minnesota survivor finds her voice to end domestic violence

ADRIAN, MN - June 15, 2018 was a day that changed Dolly Bruns forever. Her husband and former police officer, Richard Bruns, was arrested that Friday night. He later pleaded guilty to assaulting her with a gun and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Dolly is in hiding now, but she wanted to share what happened that night. She's finding her voice in hopes that it gives someone else the courage to find theirs. In the videos attached to this article, we have censored much of the language, but we do want to give a warning that it may still be harsh for some to hear.

Richard: I will f****** kick everyone's mother f***** a**. I'm right here.
Dolly: You need to calm down.
Richard: I will come and kick your a** too. Shut up!

This is an excerpt from the audio Dolly Bruns recorded at her home in Adrian, MN the night of June 15th, 2018. Her sister, Ruth Gunnink, said she had been recording arguments for some time.

"She didn't think people would believe her. She thought that I have to have proof or no one's going to believe me," Gunnink said.

That's what Dolly's husband, Richard, made her believe. In Richard's sentencing hearing, Dolly read a 10 page statement describing her life with Richard over the past 17 years.

"Because he was an officer, the state of MN trained him on how to abuse us without leaving a mark. They taught him how to intimidate and control us into compliance, and how to use use of force that didn't cause injuries," she said in the statement.

In the recording, you can hear Dolly trying to calm down Richard. You'll also hear her son screaming at some point. He was 12 at the time.

Richard: Somebody come here, so I can punch them in the f****** head.
Dolly: If you want to fight, go to the bar.
Richard: No, I want one of you f******.
Dolly: We are not going to fight you. You need to calm down.
Dolly: Richard! (screaming) Richard! Get the f*** off of him.
Richard: I never touched him.
Dolly: Go to Nana's and call 911.
Richard: I never touched him.
Dolly: You're done. She's gone.
Richard: You better get her.
Dolly: She's calling them. You're f*****. Have fun in jail son of a b****
Richard: You better run and get her. I never touched him.

That's when things escalated even more. Richard got upset Dolly's daughter ran across the street to her grandma's to call 911. At this point, it's just Dolly and Richard in the house.

"I spent the next 5 minutes on my knees, begging for my life. I truly believed I was going to die," Dolly said in her statement in court.

Dolly: Get away from me.
Richard: Keep walking and we get closer to my gun.
Dolly: Get away from me.
Richard: Keep walking. We'll get closer to my gun.
Dolly: I'm trying to get away from you. Stop it. You need to calm down.
Richard: I will. If I'm going to jail, I'm gonna earn it.
Dolly: I can't stop it. It's too late.

In the audio, you can hear the sound of Richard's gun safe opening.

Dolly: Oh my god. Stop!
Richard: I'm tired of being pushed-
Dolly: Put your gun away.
Richard: Nope. And if I'm going to jail -
Dolly: I can't stop it.
Richard: Like I said, if I'm going to jail, I'm going to earn it.
Dolly: Get your gun away from me. Get your gun away from me.
Richard: Cops come knockin' on my door, you're dead. All they gotta do is come bangin' on the door and boom, boom.

In court, Dolly describes this next part as feeling like five hours.

Dolly: I don't want to die.
Richard: Then, make the phone call. You started this s***. You will end it. One way or the other.
Dolly: I don't want to die. Please put the gun away.
Richard: F****** a man. Thanks for everything b****.

Richard threatened her with the gun pointed at her for almost five minutes. Dolly said she doesn't know why he eventually put it away. But she guesses it was because his co-workers showed up.

"He went this far this time. The next time, he'll pull the trigger," Gunnink said. "And so I think that was the turning point for her that she realized she couldn't go back."

Dolly's sister heard the full nine and a half minute recording for the first time during Richard's sentencing.

"I will probably never get the sound of my nephew screaming out of my head," Gunnink said. "Hearing her plead for her life saying I don't want to die, and he's just cold. That was so hard to hear."

The Bruns' house, where events unfolded on June 18th still has remnants of the family's life. But it just goes to show no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

The lives of Dolly and her kids changed forever that night. They went into a special program to keep them safe from Richard while he was out on bail. It's called the Safe at Home program, and it's not available in South Dakota. It is in Minnesota though.

There are several resources available if you or someone you know needs help. The South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault organization can be a resource for those who are in South Dakota. The phone number to the organization is 605-731-0041. The Children's Inn is also a good resource that is statewide. The crisis hotline there is 605-338-4880.

A Minnesota-based organization that has resources is Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. The 24-hour phone line there is 866-223-1111. If you'd like to find a resource in Southwest Minnesota, the Southwest Crisis Center can be reached at 800-376-4311.

In Iowa, there is an organization called the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence . The call center there is 1-800-770-1650.