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January 14  Newsletter

Dear Friends,

HAPPY NEW MILLENNIUM. It snowed 15 inches here in Minneapolis in the last ten days and I am ecstatic (and crazy, you're all saying!) Our new book, Results: The Silent Witness Report on Domestic Homicide Reduction in the United States is PUBLISHED!!!!! The designers did a fabulous job on it and I am so elated. Everyone who has seen it uses the word beautiful to describe it. And there is good news in this book. So be ready. Be hopeful. We are working on the mailing lists now and will get the book out to those of you who signed up for it in the next several weeks. If you didn't sign up in advance, don't fret. You can purchase the book for $10.00 which includes postage. In a few weeks all the state graphs citing their record on reducing domestic homicides for 1995-1997 will be up on our web site soon.

Congratulations to the twenty-six cities and twelve states highlighted in our book for being exemplary in their domestic violence reduction: They get the kudos for the best 1997 statistics. You have to get the book to see which ones they are!!! In this newsletter I'll introduce you to two of our new EXCITING RESULTS PROJECTS in the Making: Owning Up for Girls and Boys, ages 10-18, and the Taos Model for Counseling Survivors. We are working with these two groups to get all the research and information necessary to launch them as Results Projects. They are included in our new book and I wanted you to get a sampling of them right away. They are both phenomenal projects and have lots of potential for reducing domestic violence. Please read them and start thinking of ways to use them. We will give you more detailed information about both of them soon. We have a window of about five years now to really make a difference in reducing the domestic homicide rates even further. If every state would make a concerted effort to get at least two or even three of our nine these results projects going, we'd see a real difference. In Minnesota, one of our probation supervisors told us that THEY ARE SEEING A DIFFERENCE IN THE MEN WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH THE STOSNY COMPASSION-BASED TREATMENT PROGRAMS.


Pamela Smith (survivor, Montana), Converse County Coalition (Douglas, Wyoming),
Cecilia Firethunder (Cangleska, Inc, South Dakota).



Lecia Brannon, mother of one of the Silent Witnesses, who attended the march in
Washington, writes this beautiful note: Last month our family was featured in our local newspaper with a story about how we have coped after the murder of our daughter. I wanted our community to know that life can be good again after tragedy. I also wanted to share how the Silent Witness program has given us a focus for healing and promoting the program. The reporter was very taken with our story and the SWNI. She is working on a story to submit to Reader's Digest. I am always glad to talk about the Silent Witness program and how we can change things by appealing to people's hearts. I prayed for a way to get through my grief and pain and He sent me on a path carrying a red silhouette in Washington, D.C. I can never thank you enough. That was just the beginning. December 13 will mark the third anniversary of Lauren's death. I know that her spirit lives in the hearts of those who loved her and in the spirit of the Silent Witness. God has blessed me with this. 
*What miracles of healing happen in this Initiative. This letter warms my heart more than any big event. It's what we're all about. Thanks Lecia.

Gyorgyi Toth fills us in on some of their activity in the last months of the
Millennium: We had the exhibition at three places during the sixteen days up to now, the last occasion was a one-day crime prevention conference of the police. They really liked our exhibition. They served a very good purpose of point of argument, as most presentations talked about the security and safety of the streets and the usual, so, when I had my chance, I pointed out that they indeed should take care of the crimes taking place indoors, as all the women we presented there (it is only 16 figures, although we have over 50 dead women who were killed by (ex)husband/partner a year) were killed in their homes, or were running OUT of them when it happened. 
*Gyoryi, you are doing a great job. You are on the cutting edge of Silent Witness international. Go for it and keep letting us know what happens.

This is part of an article on a day in the life of a court house that appeared
in the Tribune Review newspaper in Greensburg, PA, Sunday, Jan 16th. "Just before 10 a.m., seats begin to fill in the first-floor main meeting room in Courthouse Square for an official meeting of Westmoreland County's board of commissioners. Today, members of the Jewish Women in Pittsburgh organization have erected life-size plywood silhouettes of women as part of a "Silent Witness" program. The images are to remind the audience that each cutout represents a victim of domestic violence." 
*Thank you NCJW of Pittsburgh and thank you Pat Lupson for sending this article to me. It is so great to know that Silent Witness is permeating all arenas in our states. Let's keep up this good work.

Megan McArthur tells us that the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, a
Catholic Women's organization is having Silent Witnesses from four states at their large regional conference in Seattle in April of 2001. There will be 2500 women attending this event so the Silent Witnesses will get a lot of great visibility and lives may be changed or even saved as a result.
*Thanks, Megan for thinking of the Silent Witnesses. Their voices will be loud
and strong at that conference.



My plans for Silent Witness this year are twofold: First we want to get as many
states actively involved in Silent Witness events or marches as possible and find a way to revive our exhibits in Virginia and West Virginia. As part of this activity, we would love to have all of our states make a new art project, our DOMESTIC MURDER METERS, to measure how each state or city is doing in reducing its domestic homicides. (See below for report on murder meters).

Secondly, I want to visit several states' Silent Witness activists who want to talk to me about how to move into the next phases of Silent Witness by pursuing Results Projects. So if your group would like to have me come and perhaps even get a stipend to get a Results project started be the FIRST TO CALL AND SET UP A TRIP FOR ME TO COME AMD SHARE THE OPPORTUNITIES WITH YOU AND YOUR STATE ACTIVISTS. I CAN VISIT ABOUT TEN STATES THIS YEAR SO THE FIRST ONES TO CALL GET THE FIRST SLOTS. THESE VISITS WILL TAKE THE PLACE OF A STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING THIS YEAR.


Here is an Update on Silent Witness Goals for 1998-2001

1. 50 American cities with 0 domestic murders by 2001. --- Reporting shows that 26 cities with populations over 250,000 have had one or zero domestic violence homicides for one year.

2. A Silent Witness exhibit in every major city in the United States. --- 90% of the cities with populations 250,000 and over have active Silent Witness exhibits. Twenty-six states have multiple exhibits.

3. Silent Witness Day every October 18, including a Silent Witness March, in every state on that day, to honor and memorialize murdered women in each state. --- This year 45 states held Silent Witness events in October.

4. Data collection programs in all 50 states. --- 49 states report annually to a national system with 92% accuracy.

5. National recognition to any cities that succeed in significantly reducing domestic violence. --- RESULTS book and a celebration event.



OWNING UP for Girls and Boys, ages 10-18:
Owning Up teaches children to understand their personal choices and behavior in
relation to their social networks and gender violence. Owning Up gives children the skills and strategies they need to make healthy, safe, and ethical choices. The program covers cliques, exclusivity, and reputations; same-sex bullying; sexual harassment; the differences between consent, sexual assault and dating violence and the difference between self defense and perpetration of assault.

One of their findings is that when teenage girls form exclusive cliques, gossip and backbite each other, the girl who is the target gets isolated from the other girls. These isolated girls are more likely to end up bonding with boys who are not good for them. This does not blame girls for abusive boy-girl relationships but rather points out that girls need to understand the role of girls in supporting one another.

The organization also has exciting curriculum for boys, helping them understand the differences that occur for them when they are in groups of boys as opposed to how they act individually. The researchers have found that boys are lonely and really need a trusting atmosphere in which to talk. Empower, the parent organization for Owning UP, is a non-profit organization in Washington DC. Empower's research shows results in changing girls' behavior regarding boundaries, treatment of other girls, and grade enhancement. It indicates that as a result of this program, girls' self image grows, boundaries become clear, test scores rise, and anti-girl behaviors (gossip-backbiting) decrease. The program was developed by Rosalind Wiseman. She is available to do training programs with groups in any state or at conferences. One need not be a psychologist to run these groups. Silent Witness Mentor: Rosalind Wiseman 202-882-2800 empower@empowered.org 


TAOS MODEL for Counseling Battered women
The Community Against Violence program in Taos, NM has collected research for
two years on their mandatory counseling program for battered women who live in their transitional shelter program. This counseling, which focuses on self-esteem, boundaries and empowerment helps women create meaningful, abuse-free lives. The counseling consists of weekly individual sessions and a weekly support group. The program is an adjunct to safety planning, life skills and parenting classes.

EIGHTY PERCENT OF THE WOMEN who participate in counseling move into homes of their own separate from their abusers within three months. They become more self reliant and are more likely to attend college, to find employment and to stay out of abusive relationships. Half of these women continue counseling after leaving the transitional housing program. The population of this shelter program last year consisted of 56% Hispanic, 8% Native American, 34% Anglos and 2% other races. The leaders are preparing a more detailed curriculum and are preparing to hold training sessions on their approach. This is very exciting because it gives us solid results on the effect of counseling on survivors. The program does not blame them for the abusive relationships but rather focuses on their needs and helps them to realistically move beyond victimhood.

Silent Witness Mentors: Malinda Dunnam, Dayna Lea 505-758-8082 cav@newmex.com 


Joanne Coghill, our Silent Witness regional coordinator in the west, has
recently designed a foldable art piece that each state can replicate in order to show how their state is doing in reducing domestic homicides. This new product coincides with the publication of the RESULTS book and we are really excited about this new design. Joanne has been working on this for a year or so and it looks great, a new attractive way to bring attention to how we are doing, and what results we are showing with all our efforts. That is what we are aiming for, reduction in domestic homicides. If you want to be faxed a copy of the design in February, just return this newsletter with the request.



We've just heard from two more cities who are looking into Silent Witness
exhibits. One group is the Center for Abuse Prevention and Treatment (Helena Morris) in Napoleon, Ohio and the other is the NCJW section in Rockville Centre on Long Island (Gail Wiener). We'll keep you posted on whether they move forward or not. This is so exciting.



A new large study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine reports new
data that we need to know about. The title of the article is "Risk Factors for Injury to Women from Domestic Violence". Here is the study method: The women studied (256) were intentionally injured and came to eight large university-affiliated emergency departments. The 256 intentionally injured women had acute injuries resulting from a physical assault by a male partner. 659 other women who were treated for other conditions in the emergency department were the control group.

The Results: The characteristics of the partners that were most closely associated with an increased risk of inflicting injury as a result of domestic violence were alcohol abuse, drug use, intermittent employment, recent unemployment, less than a high-school education, and being a former husband, estranged husband, or former boyfriend. (We do know that alcohol use by men does not account for all injuries from domestic violence so cannot be considered the cause behind all injuries, but was clearly a major factor in this large study). The race or ethnic group of the partner was not associated with the risk of inflicting injury as a result of domestic violence. Risk factors for injury from domestic violence may differ greatly among women with higher socioeconomic status and women with injuries that do not require emergency medical care. 

The authors also answered an often asked question, what percentage of women experience severe injury and lesser abuse? The lifetime risk of severe injury as a result of domestic violence has been estimated to be 9 percent for women, with a lifetime risk of up to 22 percent for any type of injury from domestic violence. (Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 1996).  A similar study, ("Violent Injuries Among Women in an Urban Area") reported in the same issue of the NEJM, by Dr. Jeane Ann Grisso of the University of Pennsylvania and other researchers, looked at women in a low-income community in Philadelphia. This study also found that substance abuse--in this case, cocaine abuse--and pervasive economic insecurity were important contributors to assaults on women. Ethnicity was not a key element. Women in the Philadelphia study who sought emergency room treatment for assaults were also more likely to have been assaulted in their neighborhoods by friends and acquaintances than by their intimate partners. "Violence has become the norm, the way to resolve conflicts," said one of the researchers.

Dr. Jeane Ann Grisso, lead author of the Philadelphia study said, "I think we have to continue to support women who are battered, but we also have to shift our focus to the batterers." *This research is so important. We are finding out more and more information that is encouraging us to rethink some of our assumptions. I am so excited that Silent Witness has contacts with effective treatment models for batterers. We need to find more and more effective treatment programs. This cutting edge research can help us to move healing further ahead.




Silent Witness has been invited to join the Global Women's Strike on International Women's Day, 8 March 2000. It is the opening event of the World March organized by La Federation des Femmes de Quebec/The Federation of Women in Quebec, Canada (see below).

The strike was called almost a year ago by the National Women's Council of Ireland, and was made global by the International Wages for Housework Campaign and the International Women Count Network which Wages for Housework co-ordinates.

The abolition of "Third World debt;" Accessible clean drinking water and
ecologically sound technology for every household; Affordable and accessible housing and transportation; Protection against all violence - at home, in the factory, in the office, on the farm, on the street; Pay equity for all - equal pay for work of equal value internationally; Wages for caring work, whether in the family or not; Paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks and other benefits that recognize women's biological work. Women in Ireland are demanding that International Women's Day, 8 March, should be a paid public holiday every year starting in 2000. Webpage http://womenstrike8m.server101.com




The Federation des femmes du Quebec is sponsoring a World March of Women at the UN next October, to issue demands and to call for an end to poverty and violence against women world-wide. On October 15, 2000, representatives of countries participating in the World March of Women will be in Washington, D.C., holding a demonstration organized by the American women's movement. The international representatives will be denouncing the impact on women of policies created by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. On October 17, 2000, the same representatives will march in the streets of New York to the world headquarters of the United Nations. They hope to meet with the Secretary General.These events were borne out of the experience of the Women's "Bread and Roses" march against poverty which took place in Quebec in 1995. 850 women (greeted by 15,000 people in Montreal) marched for ten days to win nine demands related to economic justice. Actions begin March 8, 2000 and end October 17, 2000 with the world rally. For more information, their web site is www.ffq.qc.ca/marche2000  email marche2000@ffq.qc.ca



I leave you today with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in honor of his Birthday this week. It is taken from his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time--the need for people to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. We must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."



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