July 14 Newsletter
I'm back from vacation refreshed and eager to enjoy the short summer in Minnesota and then dive into the fall Silent Witness activities. I hope you are all getting a break from the routines of your lives this summer to have fun, reflect on life and absorb the love of friends and family. Please take some time for yourselves. Your energy and passion are vital to us and we can't have you burning out. Your flames are lighting the world.
This summer is the tenth anniversary of Silent Witness as an initiative. It all began in the summer of 1990 when nine artists and writers in Minnesota, distraught by the deaths of five women in three weeks, decided to do something about it. We created the first 27 figures representing all the women in Minnesota who had been murdered in acts of domestic violence in 1990 and named them the Silent Witnesses. We called ourselves Arts Action Against Domestic Violence. In 1993 we published a book about our experience called The Silent Witness Story. Then in 1994 Jane Zeller came on board and we started recruiting all the states to make similar exhibits with the goal of marching down the mall to the nation's capitol in Washington DC with all 50 states' Silent Witnesses (in October of 1997).
That all happened as most of you know and now we are busy multiplying the Silent Witness exhibits, focusing on October awareness and memorial events, and replicating the Results Projects, those projects that we have found that either reduce or eliminate domestic violence. We have been involved as an initiative in many other activities in schools, civic arenas, malls, etc. And our new murder meters will be introduced this year for the first time. Our goal is to have a murder meter in every state.
So this October, when you have your Silent Witness events raise a glass to celebrate what you are part of; a passionate group of healing people several thousand strong, with a ten year history and a glorious future.
We are so thrilled the our goal of 0 domestic homicides by the year 2010 ("0 by 2010" ) is starting to happen. There was a 25% reduction in DV homicides of women from 1993-1997. We still have a long way to go but people, it is happening. You have gotten more than 150 Results Projects going in less than three years and some states are really feeling the difference from all the activity that is going on in their states. The excitement is building, the energy and passion is moving us forward.
Thanks to all the founders of Silent Witness, the visionaries who worked hard to get this started. Patricia Francisco, Roseann Lloyd, Jill Breckenridge, Mary McDunn, Phebe Hanson, Kathleen, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Cary Waterman, and yours truly.
WELCOME NEW EMAIL CORRESPONDENTS:
Tammy Kennedy (child sexual abuse prevention program, Vermont), Sarah Follen (SW Coordinator- Jr. League of London, England)
NEWS FROM THE STATES/COUNTRIES:
This message from Sally Sperber, the Silent Witness angel in London:
My name is Sally Sperber and I have been the Silent Witness contact for the Junior League of London for the past year. The project was officially voted through last month and the new contact andchair is Sarah Follen who I understand is now on your list of contacts.
*We are absolutely thrilled that the JR. League of London is taking on this project. Please keep us informed about the progress. And welcome, Sarah, to the network.
Susan Fuller, our Maine SW coordinator sent us this message recently. WAIT 'TILL YOU READ THIS!!!
I was in Belfast today addressing the Maine Federation of Women's Clubs. They were a very enthusiastic group of women who have committed to focus on ending domestic violence as their next year's project goal. Their president, Suzanne Snapp, has made this the focus of her president's project.
As I said they were a very ambitious attentive group of women. I found myself within the group when they made the motion and voted on it to commit to end domestic violence.
Sometimes, when we do this work it can feel like swimming against a very strong tide. Today, I felt history shift and am filled with great hope and expectation for what this collaboration may accomplish.
The new Minnesota murder meter will be introduced by two different groups this October, the Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter and the Jr. League of St. Paul (at the Mall of America). We are so excited that these two groups wanted to be the first to show how Minnesota has done in reducing our homicide rates for women.
More wonderful news: there is a contingent of Minnesotans going to Taos this fall to find out more about the Taos Model of therapy for survivors. We are so eager to bring this program to the transitional housing programs here. Minnesota is on the move again.
Rosalie McGill writes this week:
I am in NJ and would like to file a Federal Non-Profit Designation, or a 501C3 but am not sure how to go about it. Would anyone be able to give me that information? You can email me at email@example.com.
*I know there are resources for you out there Rosalie. Great move forward in NJ.
Jim Brown, Academy Commander, University of Cincinnati-Clermont College Police Academy writes about his trips abroad:
June 10 - 23, I was part of a 6 member delegation from the University of Cincinnati Urban Morgan Institute on Human Rights which traveled to Bolivia. While in Bolivia we traveled to 9 cities and villages in 12 days. We provided training to Government and Non-Government Officials as well as Judges, Health Care Providers, Advocates and Law Enforcement. We met with members of Parliment and the Bolivian Supreme Court Justices. We had the opportunity to visit 3 Shelters for domestic abuse survivors and had a number of meetings with advocates and survivors. The people of Bolivia were very responsive to our delegation and they have an excellent group of women who are fighting hard for victims of domestic abuse. They are working on reforms to their laws and the future looks good for them. Our delegation planted a few seeds and they have a solid group of Advocates they will help to make them grow.
Upon my return from Bolivia, I travel with the Cincinnati-Kharkiev Sister City Domestic Violence Project Delegation to the International Conference in Denver. We met with members of the Colorado Bar Association, Judges and Law Enforcement. We discussed a number of DV issues and met with people from around the world who came to Denver to discuss Domestic Abuse Issues, Laws and Reform. One thing is certain, from Kharkiev, Ukraine to Bolivia, to Cincinnati, to your city, the dynamics of domestic abuse are the same. The pain and suffering in my city is no less or no greater than anywhere else in the world.
*Thanks, Jim for this strong international news. We all need to join hands around the world to further the healing that is necessary to live in peace. More power to you.
And very sad news from Helena Morris, who is an advocate in Henry County Ohio. Please remember this community and hold them in your heart. What an opportunity for real healing.
It had been nearly 20 years since a homicide has occurred in Henry County. As of December 1999, Henry County has suffered the loss of 5 lives as a result of homicides related to domestic violence: two friends shot by one's ex-boyfriend, a wife shot by her husband, a child beaten to death by hismother's live-in boyfriend, and a father shot by his son. Recently one of these offenders has been sentenced. The offender plead guilty to the death of two innocent lives and the destruction of over 30 others (based on the turnout of family at the trial). While we are relieved at the closure of these cases, three still remain. Please keep these families in mind as we continue our mission with the Silent Witness, "Zero by 2010". At this time the families have not been approached about adding their loved ones to our display, which has finally been completed. It will "debut" for showing in a ceremony in October.
*You are all in our hearts and we will do whatever we can to help you and your community heal from this tragedy. Keep us posted on the process.
Sharon Montagnino writes about the most recent action of the Wyoming SW Committee:
I just wanted to update you on what is happening here with our SW Committee. We will be contracting with someone to coordinate the project from our office. We will still oversee the project but with a specific person who will do nothing but be the PR for the project, coordinate the traveling display, prepare brochures, etc. The committee has also decided to maintain a focus of public awareness. We will also look at the results projects, try and identify who in the state would be suited to take on one of the projects, approach them about it and encourage them to do so. We would help them locate funding for the project and request some follow-up to the committee on the results.
*Great job, Sharon and Company. This is wonderful. Wyoming is on the move. Keep us informed about what the committee decides. We'll be waiting.
NEWS FROM NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS:
A WINDOW BETWEEN WORLDS HAS A NEW PUBLICATION FOR US TO USE:
A Window Between Worlds, an arts organization for survivors, lead by artists Cathy Salser and Dolores Sanico have a new publication that is wonderful. It is called the Latina Art Journal. It features 16 pieces of art, all collected from Latina survivors using the healing process of the creative arts sponsored by A Window Between Worlds.
Each piece is accompanied by the artist's own words appearing in both English and Spanish. The art journal is free to the public and the goal is to have the journal reach the hands of 4,500 Latinas nationally, in order to let them know they are not alone and there is a way out of the violence. The journal is also a resource of hotline and service numbers so that women receiving the journal will have these at their fingertips. The journal can be customized for your organization. To order the Latine Art Journal call 310-396-0317 email firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW RESEARCH ON SURVIVORS WITH PTSD AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE:
Here is an abstract from a study at Harvard Medical School addressing women who have post traumatic stress and substance abuse issues (which many survivors have). There are four other studies if any of you are interested. I won't list them all here but will fax you the summary of the abstracts if you are interested. These seem to indicate breakthroughs with therapeutic approaches with survivors.
"Seeking Safety:' Outcome of a New Cognitive-behavioral Psychotherapy for Women with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Dependence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1998. Harvard Medical School, Boston; Mc Lean Hospital, Belmont, MA; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Phila, PA.
Abstract: Women with current posttraumatic stress disorder comprise 30-59% of substance abuse treatment samples and experience a more severe course than women with either disorder alone. As yet, no effective treatment for this population has been identified. This paper reports outcome results on 17 women who completed a new manual-based 24 session cognitive behavioral group therapy protocol treatment, based on assessments as pretreatment, during treatment, post treatment, and a 3 month follow-up.
Results showed significant improvements in substance use, trauma-related symptoms, suicide risk, suicidal thoughts, social adjustment, family functioning, problem solving, depression, cognitions about substance use, and didactic knowledge related to the treatment. Patients' treatment attendance, alliance and satisfaction were also very strong. Treatment completers were more impaired than dropouts, yet more engaged in the treatment. Overall, our data suggest that women with PTSD and substance abuse can be helped when provided with a treatment designed for them. All results are clearly tentative, however, due to lack of a control group, multiple comparisons, and absence of assessment of dropouts.
I leave you today with a quote from a wonderful artist, BRIAN ANDERS, whose art work I have on my living room wall. Here's a quote from one of his original compositions.
The plumber was digging around in the pipes and he saw something shine in the muck and it turned out to be the soul of the last tenant.
He gave it to me and I said I wonder how we can return it and he shrugged and said he found stuff like that all the time.
You'd be amazed what people lose, he said.