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April 18, 2003

Dear Friends,

April is sexual assault awareness month, a time in which many of you have events that involve the Silent Witnesses. We would love to hear about what you are doing and how it is spreading the word about hope and healing. Please keep us informed about your important work.

Ben Atherton-Zeman (Communication Specialist, Women's Resource Center, RI ), Sharon Montignino (SW Wyoming, new email address), Norm Olson (Father of DV homicide victim, Montana), Andrea Mesa (walking in balance Family Violence Intervention Center, Tucson, AZ)

ATTENTION: If you are a mother, daughter, grandmother or sister of a woman or man who's been murdered in domestic violence and would like to receive a comforting hand made shawl to remind you of the care and love of others please contact me. We have shawls available and would love to give you one. If you know of other women who have a loved one who has been murdered in DV, let us know her name as well. We also have a limited number of scarves for
men who are close relatives of murdered women. Thanks. Please pass this word along so the healing can move forward We also have quilts for kids whose mothers were murdered in acts of DV. See special story on Augusta Rodgers in the world-wide section of this newsletter.


From CAEPV: Kansas has added unemployment insurance benefits for employees leaving work due to circumstances resulting from domestic violence committed against the employee or the employee's spouse or dependent child, including the individual's
(a) "reasonable fear of future domestic violence at or en route to or from the individual's place of employment;"
(b) "need to relocate to another geographic area in order to avoid future domestic violence;"
(c) "need to address the physical, psychological and legal
impacts of domestic violence;"
(d) "need to leave employment as a condition of receiving services or shelter from an agency which provides support services or shelter to victims of domestic violence;" or
(e) "reasonable
belief that termination of employment is necessary to avoid other situations which may cause domestic violence and to provide for the future safety of the individual or the individual's family." The bill was signed into law April 14, 2003, and becomes effective July 1, 2003.

*Companies are very much a part of the solution and this awareness will work to reduce DV in the workplace.

Missouri: We need your help!
Jody Carroll, in Lee's Summit writes about books!

The Mid Continent Library in Grandview, MO will display the Silent Witness silhouettes (13 of them) from 4/17/03 - 4/24/03. We've collected materials from the various shelters in the area, from MCADV, and the Attorney General's office to have available for those interested. A book list (Kids and adults) was organized as well .. though we are short on Kids titles, if anyone knows some good ones, that would be really helpful! We've also set up specific times for a wide variety of DV professionals to be available in the library for questions or discussion generated from those who see the
Silent Witness silhouettes (attorney, clergy, advocates, friends and family of DV victims, "success stories" etc). Our goal is to make similar programming available to the library systems throughout the Kansas City metro area. If anyone has done something like this, I'd love to know what you did and how it turned out ..!

*Jody, what a great idea. I hope this is just the beginning of library
involvement throughout the US and the world. Go for it.

New Jersey:
This news from CAEPV: Medical and life insurance companies are now banned from discriminating against victims of domestic abuse under a bill signed on April 14 by New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey. If state regulators find violations, fines can range up to $5,000. The new law also gives regulators the power to file state and federal lawsuits against insurance companies to collect damages.

*Great going, NJ. You are a model for the rest of the country on this.

Rhode Island:
Rhode Island now has a DV court which the RI Coalition was instrumental in getting launched. It could be an important step in helping RI reduce its DV statistics. The Attorney General has asked to have the Silent Witness' Unknown woman permanently displayed in the foyer of their office in downtown Providence.

*Such good news about activists working on all levels of intervention. Good to have this Silent Witness presence too.

Sheila Shawl Stories:

California: Hi my name is Michelle and my mother was murdered when I was almost five by her step father. I am now almost forty-four and still have problems even writing this e-mail. I live my life trying to forget. Maybe this can help. I know the shawl will comfort me and I am so lucky to have found the web site that directed me to you. I really feel it's great that you turned your grief into such a positive project. Please know that I am sorry for what happened to Sheila. It is so painful to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Thanks again Sincerely, Michelle Thanks so much for caring

Every time I see a Wellstone bumper sticker, I am reminded of
Sheila and Paul and our loss as a state and a nation. I am a local designer in St. Paul and would like to donate the instructions to one of my triangular shawls. I'll scan in a photo today and send it with the
instructions this weekend. It's a simple shawl, very easy to knit. I'm
already working on one now for Sheila's Shawls. Theresa Gaffey. [note: Theresa's shawl pattern will appear on our web site
with her photo soon. Try knitting it. You'll love it.]

My daughter was murdered in Abilene in September. She was born and raised here in the Flathead Valley (NW Montana) and graduated U of M in 2002. She had moved to Abilene to begin her first full time job in her chosen career, and 3 months later was murdered in her apartment. The police have conducted many dna lab tests, but now I'm told their budget is not allowing them to pursue the investigation as completely as they had been. The shock and grief are devastating. We are blessed to be surrounded by exceptional people who are friends and have given unbelievable support. Its going to be a long journey to find a brighter day, but we do have amazing help. Its been 7 months since Jenn was murdered, I went to grief counseling
for 4 months and still find, and realize, this will always be something that hits me some days just as bad as the first day. Thank you for writing, I hope you have peace in your life. Norman

I want to thank you for responding to my email so quickly. Rolanda
was killed at the age of 24 and left behind 2 young children ages 2 & 3. A protective order was pending but was not in effect fast enough to keep her safe. Rolanda's husband found her at her mother's apartment where he drug her out by her hair. She managed to break away but he opened fire killing her instantly. He then killed himself. I wanted these shawls to be a surprise as well as my gift to her family. Is there any way that you can give me the list of shawls and I will then have them choose? Having her story put on the website would be wonderful. I want to do everything possible to honor and remember her. She was the best friend anyone could ask for. I was blessed to know her. Vanessa


Quilts for Kids is Launched:
Augusta Rodgers, a 12-year-old girl from Winona, Minnesota, heard about the Sheila¹s Shawl project and wondered if she could start a project for the children of domestic homicide victims. We said, "of course" and that¹s how the Quilts for Kids project was launched.

Augusta has had the help of her grandparents and has already gathered several quilts to give to kids. She has included a simple quilt pattern (on our web site, and would love to have kids or adults make these quilts and send them to her, along with a photo of the quilter with her/his quilt. We would appreciate if you would send these quilts directly to her since this is her program. She will love to see your creativity and have the experience of sending these along to other children.

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