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January 20, 2001

Dear Friends,

Until just a few days ago, I thought we had finally achieved a long awaited goal. That goal was to see one state reduce their domestic homicides to zero for a whole year. We missed it by THIRTY MINUTES. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, THIRTY MINUTES! There was one state which had no domestic homicides for the whole year of 2000 until 11:30 on December 31st. And that state is WYOMING. But we must congratulate them anyway for reducing their DV homicide rates significantly, moving from one of the states with the highest DV homicide rates per million to one of the states with the lowest rates per million. How about this year, 2001 being the first year with zero DV homicides for several states?

This is still exciting, to know that we can get that close to making history. And we can do this all over the country. Thanks to everyone in Wyoming who has worked to make women safe, to heal everyone and to make peace in relationships.


Cindy Wolfson (SW Coordinator, Chicago, new email address), Janet Mersereau (Family Violence Team, St. George, New Brunswick, Canada), Harry Greenberg (Consultant, Violence Intervention Project, Minneapolis), Mahnaz Harrison (Pittsburgh NCJW, new email address), Yukiko Nakajima (MN Center Against Violence and Abuse, School of Social Work, University of MN), Sherri Minkoff (Silent Witness Committee, Pittsburgh), Peggy (friend of SW, Philadelphia), Judy Winslow (Manlius, NY, new email address), Elizabeth Moore (North Carolina Coalition, SW Co-Coordinator)



Geri Haynes writes us from Sarasota with this fabulous news:

The city of Sarasota had 0 DV homicides this year...there were still several in the county, but we are making baby steps. 

*Hey, this is the most wonderful news we could have. We start with the city and then move to the county. Yes.


Leslie Caplan, Executive Director Newhouse--A treatment center for battered women and children-- writes us about the new SW exhibit being planned for metropolitan Kansas City. 

As far as our project it is new and not totally off the ground. I am spearheading the project which consists of the 6 metropolitan DV shelters. We do have the witnesses and stories from 3 of the 6 shelters. As soon as I have those stories, we will prepare the breastplates. Our brochure is ready except for the logo. 

*This is wonderful news. One more vibrant exhibit with women telling their stories. Congratulations on the fine effort. 


Kris Carlton of the Jr. League of Louisville wrote us this update about their Silent Witnesses:

I am co-chair of the Junior League of Louisville's Public Affairs Committee. My project this year is coordinating the Silent Witnesses. We missed the National Exhibit Day, and had many other projects going during Domestic Violence month. As a result, we have scheduled a Silent Witness exhibit for Tuesday, January 30, at noon, in the Courthouse Rotunda of downtown Louisville. Several Commissioners have agreed to speak out in support of the fight against domesic violence. We welcome any and all people. If anyone would like a chance to speak, please have them contact me at kris@carlton.win.net The holidays and winter months are times that we need to make people aware of domestic violence that may arise out of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), among other causes. Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!!

*THis is great Kris, to see that the Witnesses are alive and well in Louisville and speaking their truths in the winter too! Keep up the good work.


This week I (Janet) had the opportunity to see another historical first. I visited the Minnesota History Center and saw our Silent Witness figure in the Family Exhibit. She was one of the original women in our MN exhibit that represented all the women who were murdered in 1990 in MN in acts of DV. She (Kate Hebert) was in the section on pain and loss. I was struck by the vivid red figure which stood out in this exhibit to remind us all of the stories of pain and loss. It renewed my dedication to work on healing. You can all be proud of the part you have played in this effort. Thank you so much.


This summary of Missouri SW activities comes to us via Nanci Bobrow, our SW Coordinator there:

Throughout October the Silent Witnesses reached many hundreds of people, who reported being moved and compelled to action as a result of viewing the silhouettes. These are the people who sponsored the Witnesses and the places in which they displayed them: Legal Advocates for Abused Women (St. Louis County Government Center); St. Louis County Health Staff (Queeny Park); Family Violence Council; St. Charles County Victims of Crime Assistance Program; Health Center of Maryville University; Jewish Women International, Hadassah, Jewish Council Against Family Violence, Jewish Family and Children's Service, NA'AMAT, J Associates, Jewish Community Relations Council, United Hebrew Congregation, NCJW/St. Louis (at Light a Fire-Share a Vision collaborative evening on Prevention Violence in Teen Dating Relationships); Girl Scout Council of Greater St. Louis (Project Anti-Violence Education); Poplar Bluff Battered Women's Shelter/ Fortress Outreach; St. Martha's Hall, Robertson Center.

*There is obviously a lot going on in Missouri, thanks to our wonderful SW activists there. Thanks for all this effort. We love you.


Jerri MIller, co-coordinator of the Montana SW project, writes us as a follow up to the new Self Mastery Training for perpetrators that they put on in late October with Rose Mary Boerboom. The results of the evaluations were excellent. If anyone wants to see a copy of the whole evaluation just email Jerri at jerrim@state.mt.us

"Boy, does this look good or what! I am so pleased and proud of Rose Mary and all she did to get this off the ground, and the results are even better than I had hoped. Makes me think we need to do this again, and soon! At least now, we can have testimonials to use in our mailings. Happy New Year
to everyone."

*The program was excellent and now we want to get it out and get it used all over Montana so they can be one of the first states to see what the effects will be of penetrating a whole state with this program. Let's do it.


Patrick O'Donnell writes from Dayton about their latest great news:

We just got the good news that the biggest, busiest bookstore in Dayton, Ohio wants to host the Silent Witness Exhibit during the entire month of March. We will be working with the local shelter (YWCA) and advocacy organization (Artemis Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence) to come up with programming for the month.

*This is more good news out of Ohio. I had such a great visit there and the action just doesn't quit. Keep up the great work.


Sheri Minkoff of the Silent Witness committee in Pittsburgh writes:

On September 26, 2000, members of the Pittsburgh community gathered to present 15 new silhouettes at an unveiling ceremony. The silhouettes represent women who have died as a result of domestic violence. As volunteers presented each silhouette, a women's story was read. The room was silent as each horrifying event was recounted. When the presentation was complete, no one moved from their seats for what seemed like minutes. District Attorney, Stephen A. Zappala, Jr, was honored at
the event for his work in establishing a domestic violence unit in the District Attorney's office.

The previous ceremony, held three years ago, was successful in launching public awareness about the Silent Witness campaign. We hope that the most recent event will do the same. Volunteers have been actively soliciting business to display the silhouettes. Press packets as well as general information packets have been prepared. If we can educate and reach one person we have made a difference. The Western Pennsylvania Silent Witness Initiative is a collaborative effort with the Junior League of Pittsburgh, Inc. and the National Council of Jewish Women.

For more information about Western Pennsylvania’s efforts, please contact Karen Egorin chairperson, at (412) 421-6118 or ncjwpgh@stargate.net.

*Such a powerful program. And getting the District Attorney there is a great move. Nice going team. You have made a big difference in Pittsburgh.


Wyoming SW activists are bringing Rose Mary Boerboom back to Wyoming for training using her new model for perpetrator treatment called Self Mastery. She will be there on January 30 and will work with people from the mental health field, clergy, domestic violence activists, probation officers and law enforcement personnel. Wyoming is one of the most active states using the new alternative treatment models and we'd like to do research there to see if there is a correlation between that and the fact that their DV murder rates are coming down. 

*Go Wyoming.



A very special thanks to each of you for being such a vibrant part of the Silent Witness network last year. We accomplished a great deal and we have hope for much more this year. We are swimming in ideas and we love the energy each of you bring to this venture. It was exhilerating for me to visit so many states last year and see your shining faces. I visited Texas, Arizona, Montana, Rhode Island, Ohio and Illinois. 

Thank you to the regional directors who did such a good job of recuiting 44 states to have SW events in October. Thank you to all the state SW Coordinators who work so tirelessly to make things happen in your states. Thank you to the states who had statewide training on court watch, perpetrator treatment, coordinated community response, and teen DV prevention programs. It was so exciting to see all of this. Thank you to our generous funders, both corporate and individual for your help in furthering the cause of healing. Thank you to our board of directors for always backing us up with support and encouragement. Thank you to all of you who made a difference in someone's life by being part of SW and to those of you who participated in a Silent Witness event. You are angels. Believe it.


Many of you responded favorably to our invitation to come to the celebration of SW in Washington in mid-March. I'll contact each of you who wrote to me and see if we can arrange a time to be together individually or in small groups so we can meet each other (or reconnect) and stimulate energy for this next era in all the states. I really look forward to seeing all of you. Jody Rabhan at NCJW in Washington is coordinating the seating at the breakfast and the tickets so please email her if you did not do so already. Her email is jody@ncjwdc.org She needs to know if you are planning to come.


We are in the middle of forming an enlarged group of leaders for Silent Witness as we move into this new era of moving the healing farther along. Here are the leaders who so far have accepted my invitation to work more extensively with us. I will also be asking others to join us, especially with the October event recruitment and Results Project Training. I'll keep you posted as more people come on board. And if you would like to be part of this team, please be sure to contact me. We need all the help we can get.


Joanne Coghill, Los Angeles
Diane Peterson, Tucson
Jerri MIller, Montana


Nacny Rafi, Rhode Island
Sharon Montagnino, Wyoming


Vickie Amundson, Montana
Jerri Miller, Montana
Jo Manson, Virginia
Cindy Wolfson, Chicago


Melanie Martin, Rhode Island
Monica Blaizgis, New York

I asked Cindy Wolfson (NCJW Chicago) to consider recruiting groups to work on Silent Witness in the states where we have little or no activity. Just wanted you to see her enthusiastic response. She replies:

I will help you by writing to NCJW Sections in states you have targeted and encouraging them to adopt the SWE. We have Sections in New Orleans, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Denver, in Maryland, Annapolis, Baltimore, Frederick, Howard Co., and Montgomery Co., in Massachusetts, Boston, New Bedford, Worcester, South Suburbs, in Pennsylvania, Beaver Valley, Erie, Philadelphia (& Pittsburgh, but you're covered there). We also have a quarterly publication on section activities re DV. I'll try to get a blurb in there, too.

The Silent Witnesses from Chicago are still out. Programming for DV Awareness Month started in August and is continuing thru November it seems. It looks like we are going to tackle the issue of shelter services for abuse victims on drugs. Also, we are trying to research the effect of judge's comments/lectures on abusers. Does anyone know of any research in this area? 

*Cindy, with enthusiasm like this we will be all over the globe by the end of the year. Thanks so much for your help and for your enthusiasm. We need all the new energy we can muster for this last ten years of work to get to 0 by 2010.

I also thought that you would like to know that the latest revitalized or new SW exhibits are in these areas:

New Brunswick, Canada, Phoenix, Syracuse (Elmira, Ithica), Northfield, NN, London, KY, Virginia, south Carolina, Rochester, NH, Northern Rhode Island, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Kansas City. Congratulations to all of you and welcome to the network of healers all over the world. 


Protecting Battered Women Saves Lives of Men By Alan Elsner, National Correspondent:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 

Efforts to protect women in the United States against domestic violence has had the ironic effect of reducing the murder rate of men by their partners by almost 70 percent over the past 24 years, according to new figures released on Thursday. The data, compiled by James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University, show homicides by women of their spouses, ex-spouses or boyfriends has declined steadily to 424 in 1999 from 1,357 in 1976.

Homicides of women by their male partners has also declined in the same period but by a far less dramatic degree, to 1,218 in 1999 from 1,600 in 1976 -- a 24 percent reduction.

Fox and other researchers attribute the 69 percent fall in the number of male victims of domestic homicides to the availability of alternatives for battered women.  We have given women alternatives, including hotlines, shelters, counseling and restraining orders. Because more battered women have escape routes, fewer wife batterers are being killed,'' Fox told Reuters in an interview.

Women who in the past may have felt the only way to end their own victimization was to kill their partner now have other options. The greater availability and reduced stigma of divorce and the improved economic independence of women may also have contributed to the decline. 

Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Mellon University said, "Our society has been paying more attention to protecting women from domestic violence and this has produced a major decline in male victims of homicide.'' 

He cited a 1999 study sponsored by the National Consortium on Violence Research which suggested that the greater the availability of hotlines and other resources for battered women, the greater the decline in homicide of their male partners.

That study found that four in five male domestic homicide victims had physically abused their partners prior to the murder. Nearly two-thirds of female murder victims had been abused before they were killed.

About one-third of female murder victims in the United States are killed by a domestic partner or boyfriend. Only 4 percent of male murder victims are killed by an intimate.  Breaking down the 1999 figures by race, Fox found the greatest decline was among black male murder victims. In 1976, 846 black males were killed by their partners. In 1999, that figure was down to 190. Blumstein said part of that decline might reflect the fact that so many young black males of the type who might have the propensity to commit domestic violence had been incarcerated.

Among whites, the domestic murder rate of women by men was about the same in 1999 as it had been in 1976. The murder rate of men by women had fallen to 221 in 1999 from 493 in 1976. Looking at the weapons used to commit such murders, the data showed the major decline among men and women has been in the use of guns. Non-gun murders of men by women has fallen by about 35 percent, while gun murders fell by 73 percent between 1976 and 1998. But while gun murders of women by men fell by 28 percent, non-gun murders rose by 6 percent.

*One of the lessons that this might be suggesting is that in order to reduce the murder rates of women one additional thing we can do is to provide treatment and other services for men who are at risk of battering their partners. This is vary valuable information for us to have in moving forward. Thanks to these researchers for this study.

National Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Conference: San Diego, CA 

National Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Conference will be held on April23-25, 2001 in San Diego, CA. Featured presenters include: Sgt. Joanne Archambault, SDPD, Lt. Mark Wynn, (Ret.) MetroPD, Nashville, TN, Sgt. Anne O'Dell, (Ret. SDPD) Trinka Porrata, (Ret. LAPD) Diana Faugno, RN, SANE and Gael Strack, DCA, SD City Atty. The location is: Doubletree Hotel, 7450 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego, CA. Subjects to be covered include: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault, Dynamics of Sexual Assault, Strangulation Investigation, Liability, etc. For more information, visit www.stopdv.com or call 858-679-2913 for a brochure. Or you can fax 858-679-2916 and request one. 


I leave you today with a quote from Lao-Tzu expressing the principle of community that thrived about five hundred years before the Christian era:

The first practice is the practice of undiscriminating virtue. Take care of those who are deserving. Also, and equally, take care of those who are not.



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