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October 18, 2002

Dear Friends,
It is October 18, Silent Witness Day. Every year we celebrate this month as DV Awareness month, but this day is special because this is the anniversary of the day in 1997 that we marched silently with 1500 Silent Witness figures, led by bagpipers, down the mall in Washington to call for the healing of domestic violence in our country and our world. Senator Paul and Sheila Wellstone joined us and Paul acted as our MC. We had 20 Attorneys General represented as well and thousands of marchers.

It was a solemn day but a magnificent day. After the ceremony on the Capital steps we marched our Witnesses to the reflecting pool and lined the perimeter of the pool with our silhouettes. The way they reflected in the water was one of the sights I will never forget. The candlelight vigil that night was so moving I can still feel the tingling sensations.

Pause for a minute today and be grateful for all that you have done and all hat others have done since that day in Washington. Go to our web site and watch the video of the march (home page). Honor the women who have been murdered. And pledge with us to end this scourge in our lives. Here is the pledge that we all recited together at the march. Use it in your fall Silent Witness events:

In the name of the Silent Witnesses, I pledge to heal abuse of any kind in my own life, in my family and in my community. I will work to make this world free of domestic violence so we can live in peace.

The DV homicides rates for women have dropped precipitously since 1994. New successful programs have been developed. Families are healing. New hope is starting to rise. Let's keep moving, keep praying, keep working hard to heal our world.

Check out how your state is doing in bringing down the DV homicide rates by going to our web site and clicking on the red figure on the home page marked States Results. All the 2000, 1999 and 1998 numbers are up now.

Diane Brooks (Palatka, FL), Andrea Williams (Cayman Islands, new email address), Margaret Schmidt (Woodgridge Police Dept, NJ), Ellen Reed (New Silent Witness exhibit, rural NE Missouri), Erica Wagner (Coos County, OR, Women's Crisis Center), Judy Schwartz (Eastfield College, Mesquite, TX), Hope Spencer (DV Speaker, survivor), Nancy Dawson (treatment programs, Cheyenne, WY, new email address)

States on Board for October events: 33 states on board so far. PLEASE NOTIFY US IF YOU ARE ACTIVE AND NOT LISTED!!
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana (new exhibit), Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma (new exhibit), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin (new exhibit), Wyoming.

As far as we know, there is no SW activity in Hawaii, Utah, or Washington DC. If anyone knows of anyone in these locations who would like to start an exhibit, please let us know.

Countries on Board for October-November events: Silent Witness and 16 Days of Activism Canada, Cayman Islands, Germany, Hungary, South Africa, United States.


Karen Rider, University of Hartford Women's Center writes about the activities on the campus this month: University of Hartford Events; Relationship Rage: Warning Signs, Getting Help, Getting Out October 15; Silent Witness Exhibit October 23 and 24 including information booths from Interval House and CT Center for Domestic Violence prevention; We are waiting on a commitment from a nationally recognized male activist on violence prevention whom we have asked to speak here.

*Great work, Karen. I hope many people were involved and moved to make changes in their lives.

Dorothy Lemmy and Dana Knighten wrote this amazing story about the Maryland event: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's representative Ms. Twilah Shipley attended an unveiling of the SW figures on September 30th. About 30 members of the community, media and Unitarian Universalist Church members attended this ceremony. Some of the candidates running for office also attended and there was a follow-up article in the local newspaper. About 14 church members sang "No More Silence" which was a powerful vibration on this fall day. The figures will stand along Rt. 22 for the month of October as they did last year.

Dana Knighten, the new SW Coordinator, opened the event with these words: I became part of the Silent Witness program this past June, when Dr. Dorothy Lemmey, who founded our program, asked if I'd be willing to take on the position of program coordinator. I thought of all the places I've lived in my life, of the memories of domestic violence I associate with each one. I thought of the words on the Silent Witness banner, "Break the Silence." And I thought of the times in my own life I've been silent. I'd like to share with you today the reasons why I said yes to Dorothy's invitation:

December 1996, Norrisville, Maryland: My husband and I are driving up to a house we're thinking of buying. At the head of the driveway, we notice two things: the peaceful home in the woods we've come to see, and the spray of bullet holes in the next-door-neighbor's garage door. Months later, after we've bought the house, we learn the story: Several years and one set of neighbors earlier, a man had held his wife hostage in that garage with a full can of gasoline and a box of matches. He threatened to set his wife on fire if the police came any closer. As the SWAT team fired on the garage, the couple's children scrambled down the rocky hillside to a neighbor's home, and safety. I stare at the bullet holes in silence.

Summer 1985, Tallahassee, Florida: I'm reading a book by my open front window one night when shouts erupt from the house across the street. The sounds grow louder with every passing second: a man's voice, raw with rage, and a woman's, strung tight with panic. Finally the woman is screaming. I run for the phone. The man I'm married to at the time stops me and says, "Don't call the police! I don't want to get involved!" I slowly put down the phone. I am a grown woman, and I have just surrendered my voice.

Fall 1969, Prattville, Alabama: I am thirteen years old. My two favorite magazines are Teen and Tiger Beat. I have posters of Paul Revere and the Raiders on my bedroom walls. I daydream about Woodstock and Haight Ashbury.

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