May 08 Newsletter
You'll be happy to know that I found out about the Love virus in time to not
send it to all of you. I hope you have all been lucky enough hear about it
and delete all emails associated with it. I have heard there are Mother's
Day viruses going around too, so be on the alert.
I hope you are well and feeling hope and healing all around you. Last week I
experienced a wonderfully kind deed. I was at my favorite coffee shop for
lunch and all the sandwiches that I like were gone. I was lamenting my fate
when the woman behind the counter who was making the coffee today asked me
if I wanted half of her sandwich which was the exact kind of sandwich I
like. I've never met her before and it astonished me that she would make
such an offer. I graciously received her good will and felt that the world
was a better place today because of her. And you know what she said? "I was
having a bad day today and when I heard you talking about your sandwich
dilemma I just decided to turn my day around by offering you my sandwich.
Now I"m feeling better." I told her she really touched my heart and that I
was having a bad day too. Her act of kindness renewed me and I promised her
I would pass that kindness along to someone else. She sounds like a Silent
Witness activist doesn't she???
****I'll be in Austin, Texas next week and available on Thursday May 11 to
meet with Silent Witness activists. If there is anyone in that area who
wants to meet with me whom I have not talked to yet, please call me
immediately so we can arrange a time to meet. Thanks.
Today I have two special announcements: one is the first Silent Witness
Annual Award (see National Section of newsletter) and the second is a summay
of the latest Department of Justice information about homicide trends in the
US which include 1998. We have our work cut out for us BUT we are all making
a difference and states are starting to really feel the momentum. YES>
Welcome new email correspondents: More than 560 on the email newsletter list
Julie Claughton (DV Specialist, Josephine county, Oregon), Jill Breckenridge
(originator, Silent Witness Exhibit, new email address), Helena Morris
(Victim Advocate, Napoleon, Ohio, new email address), Anna Marie (Livingston
Shelter, Montana, new email address), Elizabeth Mckay (DVSAC, Grass Valley,
CA, new email address), Bob Heskett (Retired batterers treatment provider,
New Bedford, Mass)
NEWS FROM THE STATES/COUNTRIES:
Several of you have sent me good words about John Peterson. I will put some
of them in the newsletter to remind us all of John's impact on the country.
As you know, John was the catalyst for my growth to be able to forgive my
own abuser. After hearing him speak in DC, I realized that there really was
hope for abusers, and thus my commitment to Silent Witness was born. Nancy
Rafi, Rhode Island
John and Diane were an inspiration to this nation in the art of healing and
love. John will be there watching and guiding all of us in the Silent
Witness family. My prayers are with them. Give them my respect and love
when you see Diane and family in Arizona. Joanne Coghill, California
The Peterson family is in my thoughts and prayers. What a comfort knowing
John's journey has taken him to paradise. Thank you for your love of
humanity. Aggie Nagy, Ohio
Maureen Hatton writes us from the Domestic Violence Council of Western
Thanks for your hard work on the silent witness newsletter, we often publish
parts of it in our DV newsletter to hopefully inspire people in Western
Australia to adopt some of the strategies. I would like to inform you about
our own Silent Witness project and our DV Memorial March in Perth.
This year we held our 10th annual memorial march and as usual our silent
witnesses were with us. The march was very moving as we remembered the 11
children and 8 women murdered in Western Australia since April last year. We
also presented an award to Ann O'Neill who is this wonderful woman who
inspires us all with her courage and determination following the murder of
her two beautiful children and launched a book of poetry written by a group
The majority of our murders occurred in the city of Perth this year which
has a similar population to those described in the [Silent Witness Results
Book] we received from the USA a couple of months ago.
In fact we received a great deal of media coverage and used the fact that
several cities in the USA had been able to reduce the homicide rate to zero
as a call to action to fully endorse a zero tolerance campaign here.
*It is so great to hear from other countries that collaboration between
nations works. Keep up the good work, Maureen and Company. And keep this
good news coming.
Melinda Sparks (Community Committee Chair - Lodi Women's Center) sends this
heart warming message.
On March 30, 2000, the Lodi Office of the Women's Center of San Joaquin
County celebrated our ten year anniversary with a reception that featured
the unveiling of our Silent Witness silhouettes. Our organization had
pondered creating a S.W. program for a few years, and finally decided to use
this special occasion to get our project off the ground. Our hope was that
the impact of this event would heighten the awareness of residents of our
county to the continuing family violence in our communities.
I must admit, even having full knowledge of the program and reading about
the impact these silhouettes have on people didn't prepare me for the
feelings I had the first time I approached them and began to read their
brief, but poignant stories. I had even previously reviewed the stories on
paper - but, it just wasn't the same. These women truly come alive again,
standing right there in front of you, asking you to remember them and hoping
that you will help others from meeting their same fate.
I was going to try to describe how our Silent Witnesses were received that
evening, but now I don't feel I need to. Instead, I will share with you a
letter that was just forwarded to us that really says it all.... Thank you
for your inspiration and guidance! Melinda Sparks,
Letter to the Editor
I went to 29 S. Washington to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the
Lodi Women's Center. I arrived with only a vague idea of what to expect
from the evening, but what I took with me was an overwhelming sense of
gratitude and admiration.
As I approached the Center, I was greeted by 17 women that stood at the
porch as a testimony to their violent deaths. They stood in silence, but
they gathered together as soldiers on the front line. The war they waged
ended their lives tragically, but they were there, in their silence, to
fight the battle that had not died. They were fighting to save other women
from dying at the hands of their batterer. I'm grateful to those seventeen
silhouettes who gave such a powerful testimony in their silence.
After an amazing array of food and drink, Joelle Gomez, the executive
director of the Women's Center, heightened my awareness of a community that
has come together to make a larger, stronger, and more powerful group of
people to stand behind those 17 women that forge on. Ten years ago there
were three members of the Lodi community who enlisted in the domestic
violence war and along the way they recruited enough volunteers to be sure
that there would always be a place in Lodi for any woman to escape a
battering environment. This community has a great deal to be proud of and
it certainly has the admiration of many.
Thank you for fighting the war!
*With activists like these and testimonials like this, we can save the
world. Let's make it a priority this year!!
And from Sharon Loris, manager, Public Affairs Section, State Board of
Control, in Sacramento this note:
Dear Janet: Thank you for sending your silent witness newsletter on
3/31/00...it was great to see what's happening all over the country. Just as
an update, the silent witness display was up at the State Board of Control
(Board) and the Consumer Services Agency for the entire Crime Victims Rights
Week (April 10th through the 14th). It was very well received and provoked
a lot of thought. I am planning on working with our local battered women's
program and the Sacramento Junior League to see if we too can develop a
display that targets what has happened in our community. I think it will be
a worthwhile effort. I will keep you posted on our efforts.
*Thanks, Sharon. It's so great to know that the Silent Witnesses in
Sacramento are telling their stories loudly and clearly. Great work. Let us
know if you build your own Silent Witness exhibit.
David Nybakke, President of his own company and DV Task Force Chair, in
Bloomington, Illinois sent this note:
Our DV Task Force meets May 9 and I highlight "Results" to them as our
challenge to continue moving forward. May 8th I chair the local branch of
CAEPV, we have 8 corporations in McLean Co. that belong to the national
CAEPV so I worked with Kim Wells to establish our local chapter. I had the
only copy of "Results" at our last meeting, but ask each member to look for
their copy and to review it for this meeting. One member thought that this
group could help with the recruitment of volunteers for a "Court Watch"
initiative. And then May 10 & 11 I will be at Leadership Summit for the
State wide Family Violence coordinating council retreat and I will report
there as well.
*Watch out! Once these corporations start to move, there is nothing that
can stop them. I'm looking forward to the results of these task force
And this message from Debra Mize, of Belleville, Ill:
Janet, I wanted to write to thank you for your assistance in planning our
first vigil. It was held last night and about 50 people
attended--survivors, current victims from shelter, police, advocates,
friends, families of our witnesses. It was highly successful!! We did a
program called "women's awakening" a prayer to encourage women to regain
their personal power through acknowledgment of all the strengths within
(eyes, wombs, hands, connection with the earth...) we even had the men
participating with the understanding that women gaining this power will
assist the entire world.
We displayed our witnesses around the sanctuary and had advocates and family
carry them outside, light their candle, acknowledge their story, then blow
their candle out. Everyone felt it was very strong and we were lucky to
have about 6 youth present, each speaking about how moving the process was.
Our clothesline project was displayed inside the sanctuary, on pews and on
the alter and people appeared truly moved. As music, we played Macy Gray's
"Still" that discusses a woman being beaten down and not realized she had
any strength to get away. Building on that we showed ways to leave. I was
proud of our community, and our survivors. Thanks again.
*No, thank YOU Debra and friends. You put together a memorable event and it
touched people's hearts. That is a life changing thing to do in honor of the
Susan Fuller, our Silent Witness coordinator in Maine gives us a fresh
update on their activities:
The Family Advocacy Program which I am developing / directing within Central
Maine Medical Center is going very well. I have some wonderfully
insightful, flexible and supportive administration which I am learning is
the key to this program's success.
We are now a part of orientation for new employees. We have a series of 2
hour trainings coming up for medical staff and a full day conference on June
2nd open to nurses and all other hospital staff. (The Maine Silent Witness
Project will be in attendence)
The project reflects all of the women murdered in this state since we began
(1996 - 1998). So, we are currently around 30 silhouettes. The entire
project is being picked up by folks from Washington County It is quite a
hike, but they have the exhibit booked all over the county for the next 10
days. Some of the Silhouettes participated in "Take Back the Night at St.
Joseph's College last week and have been at numerous trainings within the
tri-county area over the last several months.
It is sad that our numbers are so high, but because we have updated the
project each year, we have been able to split the exhibit up to accommodate
people's simultaneous requests.
The "Seeds of Peace" workshop last week was a community collaboration to end
violence coordinated by the Bangor Theological Society and attended by
several diverse community agencies. It was a great networking opportunity
and brainstorming opportunity for folks. The workshop was held in a large
chapel with a stage and surrounding balcony on the second floor just above
the chapel. As we pondered and explored and theorized and suggested, the
Silent Witnesses stood above us, watching
over us and reminding us of exactly why we were there and for whom we were
collaborating. It was poetic and effective.
We have a dental training coming up of May 18th - about domestic abuseand
workplace preparedness and safety (first of it's kind here) which I am very
We also have a phenomenal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault statewide
conference happening May 1st and 2nd. I will try to mail you copies of the
conference info brochures so you will have a better idea of theircontext.
I don't imagine that you are aware of our Governor's State of the State
address. His ending conclusion was to proclaim Domestic Violence as Maine's
Public Enemy Number 1. With that he directed his commissioners to develop a
strategy or "plan of attack" for addressing the problem.. He spoke
poignantly and referred to several empty seats in the room representing the
9 women and 3 children who "I can't introduce to you tonight" (the numbers
represented the victims of dv and actually the numbers vary slightly from
the 1999 Silent Witnesses) But where do you suppose he got the idea. I'd
say indirectly that you had something to do with that!!
It has shed new light, as if the herrific stories that keeping coming to our
attention are not enough. But it does help when administration take the
issues seriously, and seriously enough to put some support and finances
behind their grave concerns. It is an opportunity and I truly believe that
that opportunity and the awareness that has been created not only within
this state, but also
nationally is in no small part due to the Silent Witnesses. Be proud and
hopeful. We are agents of social change and although sometimes the work
feels too slow and too heavy and ignorant people in powerful positions do
unjust and misdirected things, we are making a difference. I feel that as
strongly as I did in the beginnning.
Mary Pipher (author of "Reviving Ophelia, Saving the Selves of Our
Adolescent Girls") has a 30 minute video / interview about the enculturation
of girls with some about boys (it is called "Reviving
Ophelia") that I recently viewed. It is excellent and she states that
"Cultural change is a million acts of individual courage and kindness".
Please know that you are often in my thoughts and always in my work.
*Susan, this is so terrific and so uplifting. I love hearing all that you
are doing. It's so gratifying to hear that state officials are waking up to
the truth of the number of women and children who are needlessly murdered.
Now we need to marshall their energy to do the healing thing, the courageous
things that will move us toward new life in this country. The Silent
Witnesses are so much a part of that message. They just will not quit. They
will not give up until we are all healed.
You all got a newsletter response directly from Erin H.,a very wise 10
year-old. I thought I'd include it again so you get the full impact. We need
more children involved. (She's heard from about 10 of you already and she's
Dear Newsletter recievers,
My name is Erin H. I live in Minnesota and am 10 years old. I started
recieving newsletters a couple of months ago and think it is a wonderful
program. I believe that if more children get involved with the program that
when the children of 2000 grow up there will be alot less harassment. Also
I believe that a good amount of children in the U.S. would be excited to
recieve an e-mail about the Silent Witness program. I hope you take my
request seriously even though I am very young. I believe that if you told
the people attending your speeches to get their children ( if they have
e-mail) the newsletter that they would take it seriously. write me back
with any feedback at: email@example.com Thank you, Erin H.
And another nice surprise:
In response to our article about the two victims of homicide that were
beheaded and unidentified, we heard from Carol Lee Folsom, a sister of one
of our Silent Witnesses. She tells us that the YWCA in St. Paul has already
made Silent Witness figures for this mother and son and she has been in
touch with Betty King (the woman who wrote to us) so their group can use the
Witnesses at their vigil and procession to the Capitol. This is such
wonderful collaboration. Don't you just love it.
*Isn't it great to see these new young leaders (10 years old is a great age
to be a leader) getting on the bandwagon. I love all this energy. And
thanks, Carol Lee for being ahead of us on this one.
Patricia Davenport reporting on National Victim Rights Week, April 9-15, in
Once again, we had a very busy week in Greenville (Washington County),
Mississippi. During National Victims Rights Week, the local Domestic
Violence Working Task Force conducted 21 presentations to local school and
community sites. Our House, Inc. displayed our Silent Witness statues at
the Greenville Mall the entire week. The youth from our Survival Homicide
Group painted t-shirts about their loss of a love one. We also presented to
our local library over $700 in books on the topic of domestic violence.
The media coverage was excellent during this week. One radio show allowed
us to have guest speakers from 4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. , everyday during this
week. The paper provided a photographer to cover the events throughout the
week. Both local television stations conducted interviews with our
speakers and survivors. This was challenging time for us. The unity of
the community was very rewarding.
*Great news. What a wonderful event and such good coverage. We are so proud
of what is happening in Mississippi, thanks to Patricia and her colleagues.
This great message is from Kristen Giatzis, Chair - DV Committee, Jr. League
of Northern Westchester County
I am thrilled to report that our 2nd "Love Shouldn't Hurt" Abuse in Teen
Relationships conference was successful beyond our greatest expectations!
Over 300 Northern Westchester high school students participated along with
school faculty and social workers. Over 100 professionals and volunteers
were on hand to facilitate workshops and help out. We had a teen improv
group depict various forms of abuse and then stay in character for the
students to ask questions. We also had a teen survivor share her story to a
standing ovation. As always the Silent Witness exhibit was prominently
displayed as another powerful to send the "zero tolerance" messages to our
teen community. We also received a proclamation from the County Executive's
office for the symposium and for our work in creating the STAR (Students
Terminating Abusive Relationships) group.
*You are phenemonal. What a great way to involve teens, in improv groups in
which they can experience the effects of these abusive situations. This is
the basis for the Owning Up program too, which goes into even more depth
with relationships. It might be a natural next step for these great high
school programs. See the Results book p.55 for contacts. Kirsten is moving
to San Francisco so we are eager to see what she does in that part of the
country. Be ready, SF!!!
MY NAME IS JIM BROWN I AM THE ACADEMY COMMANDER FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF
CINCINNATI - CLERMONT COUNTY POLICE ACADEMY IN BATAVIA, OHIO (NEAR
I AM A RETIRED 29 YEAR VETERAN OF THE CINCINNATI POLICE DIVISION. I WORK
LOCALLY WITH A NUMBER OF AGENCIES ON A VARIETY OF FAMILY ABUSE ISSUES. IN
OCTOBER, 1999 I WAS PART OF A 4 PERSON DELEGATION TO KHARLIEV, UKRAINE ON A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROJECT SPONSORED BY THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT AND IN JUNE I WILL BE PART OF A 7 PERSON DELEGATION TRAVELLING TO BOLIVIA TO WORK WITH GOVERNMENT AND NON-GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ON HUMAN RIGHTS WITH THE EMPHASIS ON FAMILY VIOLENCE AND DOMESTIC ABUSE. I HAVE BEEN A KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT A NUMBER OF NATIONAL CONVENTIONS ON A VARIETY OF DV TOPICS. MOST RECENTLY I HAVE BEEN INVOLED IN AND AROUNF THE STAE OF OHIO ON "LETHALITY ASSESSMENT AWARENESS TRAINING" FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, ADVOCATES, SURVIVORS AND COMMUNITY... IN JULY I WILL BE PART OF TEAM TRAVELING THROUGH THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PART OF OHIO TO WORK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT ON GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE DV ENFORCEMENT. A FEW WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN MARRIED TO AND ABUSED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE APPROACHED ME ABOUT ORGANIZING A SUPPOERT GROUP FOR THEM AND WOMEN WITH SIMILAR PROBLEMS. ANYONE WITH INFORMATION, IDEAS AND GENERAL
KNOWLEDGE THAT WILL ASSIST US IN GETTING THIS SUPPORT GROUP ON THE RIGHT TRACK, WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.
PLEASE CONTACT ME ABOUT THIS SUPPOER GROUP OR ANY INFO YOU DESIRE ON DV
TOPICS. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL. Jim.Brown@uc.edu
*Wow, we have a traveling ambassador for healing of domestic violence. We
wish you well on these trips abroad, Jim.
News from Donna White in Oregon.
Thank you so much for fed-exing the pictures of the Silent Witness Exhibit
to me. We received good newspaper and TV coverage of the Oregon Silent
Witness Exhibit at Beaverton Christian Church this morning. Under separate
cover I am sending you copies of the newspaper clippings as you said that
you like to keep a file on media coverage around the country.
The exhibit at our church this morning had a profound impact on church
leadership and on many in the congregation. I got emphatic promises from
our senior pastor and his wilfe (who is director of women's ministries as
well) to attend one of Oregon's upcoming domestic violence training seminars
as soon as we can schedule one.
And so we make small steps forward into the community of faith!
*Small steps are still steps. Keep the faith and keep moving forward, Donna.
Thanks for all this hard work.
NEWS FROM NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS:
FIRST SILENT WITNESS ANNUAL AWARD:
Silent Witness announces the John Peterson Annual Award for the state or
major city that can show the most evidence of success with programs that
heal perpetrators. This award honors John's role modeling as a man in
recovery and a man eager to spread the word of healing to others. Each year
any city or state can submit evidence to show that their programs are
healing perpetrators and/eliminating domestic violence. A Silent Witness
committee will pick one (with runner's up too, we hope) to receive the John
Peterson Award. This will include a cash prize to the Silent Witness program
in that state, the catalysts in getting the programs to the state, or the
organization responsible for running the successful program. We are proud to
honor John in this way and we hope his life inspires others to work toward
the healing of men.
MORE MURDER METER REQUESTS:
In our quest to have murder meters in all 50 states and in several other
countries we now have more new progress to report: Three new requests, for
Ohio, Illinois and AUSTRALIA. How about that? We just need 13 more states
on board in order to get to our goal for this year. Which other states are
going to be the early adopters. It costs about $160 to get the materials if
you can do the work yourself. That's a very small price to pay to get the
word out to your state about how you are doing in saving the lives of women.
THESE WOULD BE GREAT ADDITIONS TO YOUR OCTOBER EVENTS AND WILL BRING ADDED
NEWS COVERAGE. THEY ARE VERY VISUAL. The data you need for the murder meter
is now available: the national levels of DV and your state totals for
1995-1998 are on the web site (1998 is going up on the web in a few weeks).
Anonymous message to the Silent Witness web site:
I work for a domestic violence/sexual assault agency and statewide we have
begun our own Silent Witness march. This was my second year to be involved
in the march which was held at our state capitol in March at our Legislative
Awareness Day. It is a most powerful display of how domestic violence
affects us all. SInce February 99, our small community of about 40,000
people experienced three domestic homicides. It is a sad but true and the
very fact that we live with. I am excited and encouraged to see this is a
nation-wide effort. Thank you for all your hard work.
Summary of Dept. of Justice Homicide Trends in the US. This includes the
1998 numbers which changes the information that we printed in our Results
There has been a decline in homicides of intimates, especially male victims.
The number of men murdered by intimates has dropped 60% since 1976
The number of women killed by intimates was stable for two decades and
declined somewhat after 1993
The number of intimate victims in each race and gender group has fallen
The number of white females killed by intimates rose in the
mid-1980's, declined after 1993, and in 1997 reached the
lowest level recorded over the past two decades
The number of intimate homicides for all other race and gender groups
declined over the period; black females killed by
intimates dropped 45%, black males by 74%, and white males by
Female murder victims are substantially more likely than male murder victims
to have been killed by an intimate
About one third of female murder victims are killed by an intimate
About 4% of male murder victims are killed by an intimate
Most victims of intimate homicide are killed by their spouses, although much
less so in recent years.
The intimate homicide rate has fallen for blacks in every gender and
relationship category while the rate for whites has not
declined for all categories
The intimate homicide rate for white girlfriends is slightly higher
in 1998 than it was in 1976
The intimate homicide rate for white wives and ex-wives has declined
but not as much as that for white husbands and ex- husbands
The number of intimate victims killed has fallen regardless of weapon type,
but the decline in the number killed with guns has
been more pronounced than the decline in the number killed by
WEB SITE THAT SERVES VICTIMS OF ABUSE BY POLICE OFFICERS:
Anne O'Dell who specializes in police work and DV informs us that there is a
highly regarded web site that deals with serving victims of law enforcement
batterers. Anne has worked with Diane Wetendorf (the developer of this
program) in the recent past and really admires her work. This is the only
site/organization Anne is aware of which specializes in this issue.
www.life-span.org. They have a Spanish version as well.
WHITE BISON WALK ACROSS AMERICA:
Vonna Thomas reports on the White Bison walk across America:
I wanted to touch base with you about status of the Journey of the Hoop. It
has been incredible the way people have responded to this trip and the
awareness it is building about domestic violence. I have seen many people
open up and tell their stories, and have their healing tears flow as they
release some of the pain of their past. It would be wonderful to have a
group of Silent Witness participants from your area join in part of the
walk, as well as participation in the conferences.
As we enter the communities each evening, Don Coyhis shares the story of how
this hoop began and tells the story of a 5-year old girl, who was a victim
of domestic violence in Wyoming and whose silhouette we carry with us for
the whole trip. It is extremely moving.
*More power to the collaboration between our cultures as we strive together
to end this scourge in our country.
I leave you today with a wonderful blessing,
Life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those
who travel the way with us, so be swift to love and make haste to be kind...