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June 21, 2005

Dear Friends,

I am so very pleased to tell you that several Silent Witness network members have volunteered to help us move forward with our initiative. It makes me proud to be part of this organization. We are still in a transition but I know that we will have a solid future. The kind and encouraging words that several of you sent Nancy and me helped us move through this difficult time.

So here’s our new team (so far):

Overall coordination: Cassie Pritchard; newsletter, web site coordination, mailing list coordinator, on-line contact, events coordinator (April/October). Cassie is an intern at Oklahoma State University and has worked diligently with the exhibit on campus there in the past year. She’s working on her master’s degree at OSU. Her supervisor, Sharon Stead, was active with the Silent Witness exhibit on her previous campus and brought the whole program to OSU. We may be developing a way to keep the coordination going through these intern possibilities. We are grateful to Sharon and Cassie for this idea and the energy to move it forward. So send your information for the newsletter to her or just email back to us when you get a newsletter and she’ll get it.

College coordination: Jennifer Stanley and Monica Blaizgis; college coordination and new college efforts on the web site. Jennifer wrote this to me, summarizing her ideas for the college portion of Silent Witness: “I would like to update some of the college items with pictures, updated lists of college participants, and maybe even a link to a college discussion board. I might be able to hire a student worker next year dedicated to this effort. I am also thinking of starting a College & University electronic newsletter to share program ideas, successes, challenges, etc. There can be a lot of bureaucracy on college campuses and I would like to try offer more ways for the groups to connect. Finally, I really want to work on generating a database of all of the college chapters. I don’t have very comprehensive info on the colleges that have SW chapters or contact info for the people overseeing those projects.” Silent Witness is indeed lucky to have such wonderful leaders with great ideas and the commitment that goes with them.

Sheila Shawls project: Susan Bourne has an online knitter’s group in place that has a similar theme to the Sheila Shawls project. She will be in charge of recruiting and distributing Sheila Shawls. She wrote this in response to our request for help. “I would like to volunteer as coordinator for the Sheila’s Shawls project, which complements and combines so well with my ongoing Healing Shawls work, focus and vision. Since there’s already a Healing Shawls group at yahoo, we could use that as a forum and place to share, discuss and arrange drop-off and distribution. I see us gathering information, listing needs, finding knitters, organizing state volunteers, sharing patterns and perhaps yarn, creating cards/greetings to enclose with each item, fund raising for postage and materials (if needed), conversing and reflecting on the knitting process, how it helps us to knit even as we knit to help others.” This looks like a perfect match for our two programs and Susan has a lot of ideas

Data Collection: Mary McDunn, one of the seven originators (the artist who designed the figures) for Silent Witness in 1990, called to ask how she could help out. She will collect the state domestic homicide reports from the FBI, collate and tabulate them (homicides per million population for each state) and post them on the web site. We are a few years behind so she will do three year’s worth of tabulation this summer. She has also volunteered to oversee the upkeep of the whole original exhibit in Minnesota which needs refurbishing. We are so elated to have Mary’s time and talents back on board.

Product mailing: Nancy Rafi is graciously mailing out the products as they are purchased. She is on her healing journey and we are all pulling for her. It’s nice to have just a little of her still involved with us. We’ll wait to see what evolves for her in the future. Bless you Nancy.

Mentoring: Janet Hagberg. I still plan to retire from active leadership of Silent Witness on August first, but will be available to mentor these new leaders for awhile until they are comfortable with their role. There is also a possibility that some of the founders of Silent Witness may be interested in being on the board and useful as sounding boards and mentors. We’ll see how that shapes up in the next few months.

By the way, I still have about twenty shawls that need homes so if any of you are in need of shawls for survivors or for family members of DV homicide victims, please email me at

Contact information for the new Silent Witness leaders:

Overall coordination: Cassie Pritchard, Oklahoma State University
Sharon Stead, Oklahoma State University

College coordination: Jennifer Stanley, Roger Williams University, and Monica Blaizgis, volunteer, Chicago,

Sheila Shawls project: Susan Borne, Vermont, online knitter’s group,

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to leave you with two pieces of GOOD NEWS. The first piece of news is something which we have worked on now for fifteen years—a dramatic decline in domestic violence. The second announces the reintroduction of the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) to congress. Silent Witness had a part to play in the first VAWA legislation when Senator Paul Wellstone invited us to bring the Minnesota Witnesses to Washington to stand in the rotunda of the Russell Office building. Half of the senators had offices there and walked through that rotunda on their way to the Capitol. Paul told us that many of them commented to him that the issue of domestic violence became more real to them as a result of reading the stories on the chest plates of our Witnesses. Tipper Gore walked through the exhibit while it was housed there and was deeply moved by the stories too. And the guard in the building told us that he had volunteered at a shelter for awhile and that he felt personally protective our of “ladies.” There are so many beautiful and moving stories generated by these powerful Silent Witnesses. Thank you all for the part you have played in keeping the hope alive.


Washington, DC -- The rate of family violence fell by more than half between 1993 and 2002, mirroring an overall downward trend of violent crime during the same period, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced on June 12. In 1993, an estimated 5.4 victims per 1,000 people age 12 or older were victimized by a family member, such as a spouse or parent. In 2002, however, that had fallen to 2.1 family violence victims per 1,000 people 12 or older. Family violence as a proportion of all violent crimes remained about the same. Between 1993 and 2002, the most recent year for which data were available, about one in 10 violent crimes were committed by the victims' family members.

Simple assault was the most frequent type of violent offense. Murder accounted for less than one-half of 1 percent of all family violence between 1998 and 2002 -- the most recent years analyzed for the report. The report looked back to 1993 -- the year the survey was redesigned -- for a long-term trend in family violence, but analyzed the most recent years to glean detailed information on patterns of crime. Almost half of the 3.5 million victims of family violence between 1998 and 2002 were spouses. Fewer than one in 100 died as a result. The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that:

--73 percent of victims were female.

--75 percent of offenders were male.

--Most violence happened in or near the victim's home.

--74 percent of victims were white.

--Most victims were between ages 25 and 54.

--79 percent of offenders were white; most were at least 30 years old.

--Approximately 1 in 5 people murdered in 2002 were killed by a family member.

Family violence is measured through the National Crime Victimization Survey, based on survey interviews with samples of the U.S. population. It is also measured through the FBI's National Incident Based Reporting System, based on statistics compiled by local police departments. To view the full report visit the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs at <> .


Washington, DC -- On June 8, a broad coalition of the nation’s leading experts on domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking hailed the introduction of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States Senate. Sponsored by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Arlen Specter (R-PA) along with co-sponsors Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), the bill re-authorizes the landmark legislation that was first passed in 1994. It adds new components that enhance services for victims of sexual assault and improve programs addressing health, prevention and other essential issues. On June 14, bi-partisan leaders Mark Green (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the House of Representatives version of the Violence Against Women Act.

I leave you today with hope for the future and deep gratitude for what has already been accomplished through the Silent Witness Initiative.
I am sad to be leaving but I know that the satisfaction I feel will stay with me. The leaders who have come forward are competent and excited to be part of this work. Silent Witness has been a vital part of in my life and very healing personally. Thank you all for what you have contributed to me and to Silent Witness.



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