A special thanks to all of you who have worked so hard to make Domestic Violence Awareness month memorable in your life and in your part of the
world. You are all angels. Believe it.
Rosalind Wiseman (of Owning Up, one of our Results Projects) and I had a fabulous week in the Cayman Islands. We met lots of committed women and men
and we were swept up by their hospitality. More on our trip in this newsletter. At the Cayman Islands Silent Witness March Thursday the whole
crowd recited our SW pledge in unison. It was a powerful moment. Since it is
still Domestic Violence Awareness Month I thought we could all recite the
pledge when we get this newsletter.
"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 my country free of domestic violence so we can live in peace."
WELCOME NEW EMAIL CORRESPONDENTS:
Gloria Blea, Lori Meyer (human ecologist, Missouri, new SW exhibit), Andrea
Williams, Renee Hannas, Sandie Wilson (Cayman Islands SW activists), Kevin
McElroy, Irene Weiser (Stop Family Violence, Ithica, NY).
NEWS FROM THE STATES/COUNTRIES:
This note from Stephanie Lighter, the SW coordinator for the NCJW Boca-Delray section:
Good news! The South Palm Beach County Domestic Violence Coalition has re
organized and is up and running. Our vigil which will take place at the Jewish Community Center on October 23, 2001, will be titled, "The Many Faces
of Domestic Violence." We shall also be bringing our Silent Witnesses to the event and during the program we will read out their stories. The
organizations involved in this coalition are: AAUW, Jewish Women International, Boca Raton Police Department, National Council of Jewish
Women, Boca-Delray and South Point Sections, Sage Institute, NOW, Baha'i Faith, AVDA and Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. The vigil will include
community leaders, prayers and DV survivors. The coalition will be planning
future events during the coming year to educate and inform the community at
large. Our Silent witnesses will also be on display at AVDA's vigil to be held in Delray Beach on October 16, 2001. We have found a new "home" for our
29 Silent Witnesses, they are housed at he State Attorney's office in West
*Stephanie, it is so good to hear there is a revitalized collaboration in southern Florida. Great work. We and the Silent Witnesses are grateful to
Celia Heady, our friend and coordinator in Idaho, writes:
We have a big deal scheduled for this Thursday. It's focus is not the silent witnesses, but they will be there and I will certainly acknowledge
that it is Silent Witness Day. I am holding a grantee training (I administer the
VOCA, Family Violence Prevention, and Idaho DV funds) in
Boise and while most will be there, the Coalition (a private advocacy group)
and the Council on DV and Victim Assistance (My Idaho Legislated Body - the
Governor's Council) will be having a one hour DV celebration with the Gov's.
wife, U.S. Attorney, Attorney General and Chief Justice of our Supreme court
speaking. I am saying this is a celebration - a time to celebrate all of the achievements Idaho has made in the fight against DV and the
accomplishments that those present have made. Attached is a flyer.
*Thanks, Celia. This looks like a momentous occasion in Idaho and I heartily
endorse celebrations. Go for it. And thanks for all the work you have done.
Together we can heal this country.
Rosemary Rainman of Maryland writes this great little note:
I am working on yet another display board for a Wed. night presentation! Yeah! Fern Brown and I also have an exhibit up at the court house and the
county government building this month. Yesterday we had a display table at
our local sheriff's "strong person" competition and hope to do something extra special in February. Love, peace and safety to you.
*Rosemary, every time the Witnesses appear in public a life is changed. Believe me. It's true. So keep up the good work. Thanks from all of us.
Nanci Bobrow gives us this summary of the travels of the SW exhibit in Missouri:
The Missouri Silent Witnesses are on the move all of October and November.
Three women and our little boy are on display in Clayton in the Justice Center window for all to see. The rest of the women will travel:
Southeast Missouri Family Violence Council will use them for two different events, at a college and a health center. They are part of
Maryville University Violence Awareness month activities and their weekend college and they will be in Jefferson City at the Heart of
America Girl Scout Council anti-violence education week. On Oct. 25th NCJW - St. Louis Section, along with Jewish Council Against Family
Violence, Jewish Family and Children's Service, Jewish Women International,
and NA'AMAT, is sponsoring a St. Louis community wide program on relationship violence.
*Thanks, Nanci, for this great update. What an amazing month the Missouri Witnesses are having. Thanks again for your leadership.
Jerri Miller, one of our stalwart SW coordintors in Montana writes this great news:
Greetings from the great state of Montana where we have just had a hugely successful Self-Mastery Workshop in Great Falls on October 16th and
17th!Rose Mary Boerboom and Susan Brown co-presented the model, and in Montana slang, it was a HOOT! We tripled our attendance from last year, and
after just glancing over the evaluation forms, it was rated outstanding or
excellent by virtually everyone attending. Rose Mary is so fun, warm and outgoing that absolutely everyone loves her. Susan is a wonderful addition
to the program. The two of them play off each other beautifully, and everyone had a great time besides learning something! And, on top of all
that, the Counselors and Social Workers earned 14 hours of continuing education credits.
Montana Silent Witness was very fortunate to receive a $10,000.00 grant from
the Montana Board of Crime Control to present this program twice this fiscal
year and even more wonderful--we can do it at NO COST to the participant. Our next sessions will be in Billings, MT on May 8th and 9th. The folks
attending this workshop were so pumped they have promised to recommend the
program to their co-workers and the referral agencies they work with. And,
we encourage folks from the surrounding states and Canada to join us! We'd
love to have you! We also had our first Justice of the Peace join us, and
he was really impressed with both Silent Witness and Self-Mastery.
Our grant had two requirements of us. One was to make a concerted effort to
bring in folks from the Native American reservations. We did that, and were
really fortunate that there was a conference of tribal employment and training folks going on in the room next to ours, and we brought some of
them over to view our Witnesses and they allowed me some time on their
agenda to tell them about Silent Witness, and they will be getting even more
folks to attend the sessions in Billings. The other requirement was to make
a hard target on eastern Montana where we have several counties that may be
750 to 1000 square miles with less than 1000 residents. Counseling and treatment facilities in these areas are few and far between as are the
professionals to provide these services. Many of the people who attended this workshop are interested in presenting the program and helping us set up
groups in these far flung areas. The U.S. Attorney's office in Billings will
be helping us with our Billings sessions, and we are hoping they will be another driving factor in getting as many people as possible to thesse
The grant we obtained also provided us with a very modern and up-to-date laptop computer which we are using to create a training module on the Court
Watch program that can be used by advocates and volunteers in these outlying
communities. Thank you so much to Connie Fox for providing us with a copy
of NCJW's training manual. You've made my job so much easier! We are video-taping interviews with our local Sheriff, Victim/Witness Advocate,
County Attorney and Justice of the Peace to get their information on how DV
cases are dispatched, investigated, prosecuted and sentenced. The tape, as
well as a PowerPoint presentation and training manual will be made available--free of charge under the grant--to the
folks in Montana who really need the help.
For those of you who have not had the privilege and pleasure of seeing Rose
Mary teach her program, I urge you to plan a Self-Mastery workshop. This is
a wonderful, useful, easy and functional program, and you will not be sorry!
*Thanks, Jerri for that great summary of the work you are doing with Rose Mary, Susan and Connie. This is such a giant step forward for Montana. We're
trilled. And we can't wait to see the first results from the treatment programs that will be using the Self Mastery model in MT. I'm especially
pleased that you are involving the Native Nations. Go for it.
Here is a powerful personal message from a woman who carried the Silent Witnesses during October.
The Silent Witness Speaks Volumes~ by: Desiree' F. Rudder
Incredible...this is the only word that keeps pondering residence in my mind...Incredible!
As I carefully placed the loop to the five foot long duffle bag over my shoulder, I thought to myself, "Incredible". I am moved to tears. Mostly
with honor and gratitude, some from the movement of the feelings that rushed
over me...feelings from my past, the echos of distant screams, horrific thoughts muted by feelings of gratitude and honor and hope. I am honored to
be a part of displaying the images that represent the women who have been murdered through unthinkable acts of domestic violence. I am honored to have
held these priceless objects of symbolism in my arms, to have stroked them
as if they were the face of my own sister, my own mother, my own daughter,
my own friend. I feel honored to feel the weight of these figures on my shoulders. Figuratively and literally. I, too, was a victim, then a
survivor, and now I am an advocate...an advocate in the name of these women.
They will always be a part of me. As I walked five blocks, through the fresh Fall morning air of Downtown
Portland, Oregon, with this duffle bag filled with two five foot images of
murdered victims, I let myself feel the "now" of the moment. To take it all
in, to feel all the emotions that surfaced. I wanted to cherish every step, taking them deliberately and carefully. Fully understanding the
importance and significance of what was taking place. I had against my body,
feeling fully, the weight of these women and what they and their families and friends endured and suffered.
You see, my friend Michelle Candelaria was murdered by her husband in 1994.
He stabbed her multiple times while her children watched. When the opportunity arose to have the exhibit in our office, I asked if Michelle's
image was one that was represented in the collection we would be displaying.
I was told she was at the Oregon Coast this week. I smiled gently to myself
and thought, "How lucky they are."
When such horrific acts are committed, it is difficult for me to find a "good" or "just" reason for why they happen. It is very difficult for me to
say and believe that "these things happen for a reason". I cannot imagine what that "reason" could possibly be. The only thing that has brought any
comfort to me is the ability to be pro-active in the movement to end violence against women. To take a passivist stance to end violence all
together. One step at a time, one day at a time, one non-violent act at a time, we become closer to the realization of this dream for the end of
domestic violence and the beginning of World Peace.
*Desiree, thank you so much for this powerful tribute to the memory of your
friend. We are proud to have you involved with SW and hope you continue. Together we can heal this world.
Nancy Rafi gives us a rousing update about the success of the SW display in
RI so far, and an update of events in October:
I just received a call from AT&T in Providence to tell me that the SW display we have there has had a TREMENDOUS impact on their employees. Their
HR department has been inundated with calls with people starting to disclose
their own issues of DV...imagine that! I talked to the gentleman who put the program together, and he said he was very excited about the reaction
it's caused, and how people are really connecting to it - yeah!
We had our fourth annual Day of Remembrance & March to End the Silence on
October 18th at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence, RI. This year, we
were once again led into the cathedral by a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace
and we had 5 of the 6 RI Silent Witness groups present. Melanie Martin spoke
about moving from a survivor to a healer, I talked about the RI Silent Witness project, and we had state Senator Theresa
Paiva-Weed speak about
working on domestic violence issues in the legislation in RI. The Senator
also brought 7 of her collegues with her, including the state Senate Majority leader - and each of them joined the 150 people who march with us,
led by mounted police officers, through the streets of Providence as we carried our 37 Witnesses by candlelight. We returned to the steps of the
cathedral where we were led in a closing prayer by Sharon Jones, a Methodist
minister from East Greenwich, and then I read the names of the 70 Silent Witnesses in RI over the past 20 years. It was really incredible! We had a
group of middle school kids come with their teacher - about 20 I'd say - and
a group of high school students who had been friends of one of our Witnesses. All 3 of our local television stations carried the story - one
of them even had a live feed of the event! but I think what I'll remember most was the little 6 year old girl one station interviewed, who had made a
sign and carried it by candlelight saying "End the violence" and what she said to the reporter "People are being killed, and it just isn't right - we
need to respect each other". Out of the mouth of babes.
This year we had 2 special people help us pull the event together - they have just started working with our project, and were able to get all the
candles donated, along with getting several local police departments to send
officers and cruisers to escort us - great job! They are Dale Folan, and John
Sarmento. I see great things ahead for both of them, and we're excited to have a man's voice added to ours. John even did an interview at our
march with one of the television crews!
So far this month, our Witnesses have been seen at the University of Rhode
Island - both Providence and Kingston campuses; Salve Regina University in
Newport; the Washington Trust Bank in Westerly, RI; The YWCA of Northern Rhode Island; AT&T Corporate offices in Providence; the Take Back the Night
march in Providence; the Women's Resource Center of South County in Wakefield, RI and St. Theresa's church in North Smithfield, RI. It's
amazing the ways that people are finding to use them, and I really appreciate all the groups that have spent their time working on this project
- it's great to be a part of team!
*Isn't it wonderful when young people are involved. What a tribute to their
spirits. And to have the voices and energy of men as well is so heartening.
We have so many great men involved with SW. Thanks to all of you.
NEWS FROM WORLDWIDE HEADQUARTERS:
Cayman Islands trip a rousing success:
The Cayman Islands SW activists are utterly amazing. Rosalind Wiseman and I
(Janet) spent a week with them and came away in awe of their devotion and grateful for their perseverance. We both feel like we met friends who we
will cherish for a long time. Here is a summary of our whirlwind activities
Meeting with Cayman Against Substance Abuse Youth Conference; "Chat Session"
with Rosalind at the Women's Resource Centre; lunch with Cayman women activists; meeting with school counselors of a high school; speeches at the
Lions & Leos dinner; Daybreak live TV show (3 times) to talk about our
visit and announce events; school assembly for 280 14-16 year old girls at a
high school; classroom instruction of Owning Up program for 20 selected high
school girls; two extensive press interviews for the Caymanian Compass; presentation at the Cayman Islands Law School (Family Law class); speech at
the Rotary dinner; speeches at the BPW luncheon on Domestic Violence (125 attendees, including Cayman Islands Governor's wife, Suzanne Smith and Kathy
Wagner, BPW President); Meeting with leadership at the Ministry of Women's
Affairs and Ministry of Education; taping of an hour long TV special called
"Abuse, it's Not Just Physical;" March to End the Silence in downtown Georgetown; and an informal reception with activists. We had press print
coverage 4 times and TV coverage 5 times including live coverage of the march. Are you exhausted just reading this???
But the personal stories that we remember are more powerful than all of those events.
These include the openness of the high school girls talking about dating violence and wanting to change it; the fact that the woman who
checked us into our hotel was a survivor who had to leave Jamaica to escape
from her abuser and was now living a better life; the fact that Peter, the
husband of one of the Caymanian women made the original Silent Witnesses all
by himself and worked on them meticulously so they would be perfect for the
trip to Washington; that Kathy Wagner, BPW President is interested in helping us bring SW to all the Caribbean Islands; the fact that many men are
involved in the DV programs in the Caymans and are vitally interested in eradicating this issue; that the TV anchor who hosted our hour long special
had been in an abusive relationship and spoke about it on the air for the
first time; that Joy Basdeo, the woman who originally brought SW to the Caymans is now the permanent minister in the Education Ministry and still
very supportive; and that the Governor's wife, Suzanne, spoke passionately
from her heart at the BPW luncheon about how we all know someone who is being abused, and then lead the SW march the next day.
I would like to give a special tribute to the 14 people (including one man!)
who came to the SW march in Washington in 1997. Prior to that trip, they tell me, nothing was being done about DV in the Cayman Islands. Since that
trip various groups have started the following programs in DV: Legal Befrienders Program for survivors, Women's Resource Center, Lions' after
school program for adolescents, Police Family Protection Unit and training,
and two Silent Witness marches. Wow, all that in just four years. And now we
think there is a strong possibility that they will adopt the Owning Up program and perhaps the Self Mastery
program. Rosalind and I were moved by the hospitality of our sisters and brothers in
the Caymans. We had wonderful lunches, dinners and island tours with them and got to know them as friends. We ate conch fritters, jerk chicken, rum
cake, and great seafood. Rosalind found the skin diving attractive and since
this is one of the finest places in the world to do that, she was elated. I
swam at night when everything cooled down!! We are deeply indebted to the BPW Club in the Caymans and especially these women, who planned our trip and
made us feel so welcome: Andrea Williams, Renee Hannas, Sandie Wilson, Brigette Crowley-Schweitzer, Annie
Multon, Kathy Wagner, and Angela Doyle.
We are so grateful we are both speechless, and that says a lot.
Women's Peacepower Foundation honors two Silent Witness activists:
The Women's Peacepower foundation awarded two of their Amigas awards to two
Silent Witness activists, Pat Lupson of Maryland and Diane Peterson of Arizona. These are very special awards given to people who have done great
things in the DV movement and have gone beyond the call of duty in their activities. It is truly an honor for SW to have two such activists this
year. And there is a $250 prize accompanying the honor. The reception for the winners will be November 8, 2001, 6:00 PM in Tampa, Florida.
Congratulations Pat and Diane. We'll give more details on their history of
involvement in the next newsletter.
Early Results come from Wyoming on using the Self Mastery program with survivors:
Joanne Brown-Vossler, a therapist in Wyoming, was so excited about Rose Mary's program that she requested the training manual early so she could get
started on her groups with survivors. She was really excited about her early
results, although the numbers are small and more work needs to be done to encourage women to come to these groups. Here is a brief summary of her
work. Her email is at the end so those of you who would like to contact her
can do so.
We have had some wonderful results with it even though our sample is extremely small at this time. We had 23 women sign up for the course, all
victims of domestic violence in the past. Of those 23 women 7 completed the
program. There were various reasons for the drop out rate during class which averaged 50%. Many more agencies called about the courses and were
planning to refer clients to the courses. Some became part of our group of
graduates and some never showed to sign up.
My belief is that many of the women who called regarding the course wanted
to make the change, but they just weren't at a place in their lives when they were prepared to take on the task - and it is a big task. The workshop
reveals so much to these women about themselves and their relationship choices and styles that they are brave to take it on. They have my utmost
We would have had 11 complete the course in a 4 month period, but one lady
did so well that she was referred to training to become a truck driver by the Department of Family Services because of her positive changes. Some
just weren't ready to look that far into themselves at the time and may return at a latter date when ready. Some got seriously ill and missed so
much of the class that they decided to try again at a later date. Of course, some went back to their abusers and just weren't ready. Two were
referred to individual counseling because they weren't ready for a group setting.
We have had the District Attorney's office comment about another client's major changes around her outlook, attitude, and way of being.
Our agency is a rural domestic violelnce/sexual assault service agency serving a city with a population of approximately 55,000. We also serve the
rest of the county which includes several very small county farm towns. We
completed the course in a 12 week/once a week for 2 hours format. The women
bonded immediately and all requested a support group to help them maintain
their changes when they completed the course.
We celebrated the last class with cake and a special ceremony of writing something positive about each class member on a sheet of paper to give them
something positive along with their completion certificates to take home with them. The women liked this part of closing class. It is interesting
how difficult it was for almost all of them to be able to create something
original and positive about the others. Most of the women commented on this
and then were laughing - "no wonder we have so much trouble saying positive
stuff about ourselves".
One of my favorite comments by one of the women in the first graduating class was about herself. She had been telling the class for about 5
essions how fat, ugly, stupid, and useless she was. She came into the 6th
session and announced to us all that she had really nice, pretty legs. She
got a real genuine ata-girl from the other members of the class.
I love this program. One caution to all those who start this program with
victims - the one thing that our post and pre-tests revealed was that without exception the level of depression increased for all class members on
their tests. They took these post tests on the final day of class and the
results may very well have been affected by the fact that the comaraderie of
the class was about to end. In a few cases - 3 - I referred them to private
counseling or a support group because of the difficulty they were having with dealing with poor choices they had made in the past and the effect
those choices had made on their children. Some caution has to be used when
screening for this group.
As I may have mentioned before, there were a couple of women whom I referred
to counseling rather than the class. They were told that they could then join a class after being in counseling for a while. One note for your
information: I have just received a request from a local therapist to take
two of her clients into a class and she informed me that other therapists would likely do the same if they were aware of the program. email her at
I leave you today with an anonymous quote. I wish I knew who said it. I think it quite wise.
"It's what we do when we don't have to that determines what we become when
we cant help it." Anon