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November 09, 2001


Dear Friends,
We had a very successful Domestic Violence Awareness Month given all that has transpired since September 11. I commend you all for your perseverance. More at the end of this newsletter on that. And we have gotten a lot of attention lately. One of our activists is highlighted in the December issue of Ladies Home Journal, two others got Amigas Awards from the Women's Peacepower Foundation and we will be cited in a book on civic entrepeneurship which comes out next year. Wow. Doesn't it feel good to be working with such dedicated people.

My November calendar shows All Saints Day, Culture Day in Japan, Veterans Day in the US, Armistice Day in France, Remembrance Day in Canada, Day of Prayer and Repentance in Germany, Thanksgiving Day in the US, and Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan. What an interesting combination of remembrances.

Ellyne Nusalim (School of Leadership and Creativity for Women, North Sumatra, Indonesia), Robin Sherard (Family Advocacy and Outreach, Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, NM), Connie Peterson (New SW Coordinator, Henry County, OH), Elaine Fishpaw (Gaithersburg, MD)

Would you consider an end-of-year gift to Silent Witness:
Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to Silent Witness this year. We are moving forward in many exciting ways. 30 states now have multiple Silent Witness exhibits, more than 2000 figures. Our Results projects are growing by the day. We are seeing more unmistakable results all the time. The domestic murder rates for women are down 25% since 1995 and we are part of that effort. We develop leaders and we mentor healers. We are highly collaborative. And we are all grassroots. All this with a minimum budget (under $30,000) for several years. Every gift makes a difference, especially in this very tight economy. Thanks for considering us. Send a check to Silent Witness 20 Second St. N.E. Suite 1101 Mpls, MN 55413. 


This news from Bill Blont who works for the Youth Authority in Sacramento:

A great opportunity has just come my way. A film crew from Japan is going to be in my classroom here at the Calif. Youth Authority to film a segment on my Impact on Crime of Victims Course to be shown in Japan. My plans are to do a lesson on domestic violence and use the silhouettes that my class made for the Sacramento Silent Witness group. I am a member of the Silent Witness group there as well. I continue to marvel at the opportunities to share and impact people and hopefully reach the time of peace in the family and home.
I wish you the best.

*Thanks, Bill, for your great work and for remembering Silent Witness in your filming. This might even get Japan excited about starting a Silent Witness exhibit. Who knows?

We just got a great letter from a new friend in Indonesia:
Dear Janet,
Thanks for your attention. I shall be very happy to be with your group. My name is Ellyne Nusalim ,I am 51 years old on February 4th.
I have been a witness and survivor of the domestic violence. I had divorced 8 years ago after experiencing 21 years of abuse-relation 
marriage and I thank God for the gift of grace so I would like to help others. I have just come back from Melbourne where I had spent most of my time this last 5 years monitoring my girls education. Surely it would be a benefit to keep in touch with your group since I am 
planning to open a workshop seminar in School of leadership and Creativity for women. My deep appreciation for your kind attention. Thanks for your advice and the newsletter, it is wonderful to share and be able to communicate with your group. I have read the newsletter and it is amazing how the participants have reached the awareness about the domestic violence which is yet a hidden issue in the Indonesian community.

Certainly I would like to introduce the silent witness program as soon as possible as it would help to raise and increase the women's self esteem in this country. We can introduce your organisation or your program through the women's column at the local newspaper and women's magazine. As the Indonesian Women's day on the 22 December it is also an idea to have special issue with a special topic , which could be a positive view from a different perspective how this hidden crime have destructed many women 's life and yet the community here, including the culture and legal system deny these events. Your program would be certainly a benefit for us, in increasing the awareness of these issues in Indonesia. Thanking you for co-operation

*You are a light in your country, Ellyne. Please let us know how we can learn more from you and how we can help in your efforts. We will look forward to 22 December to see what is published.

Dorothy Lemmey sends us this moving summary of a truly important event:

On Saturday, September 22, 2001, a sunny warm day, Seventeen church members from UUFHC arrived to work together to produce a powerful statement in Harford County to Break the Silence and Stop The Violence. As they pulled up they waved, got out of their cars in working clothes, took out their saw horses (bracket), electrical jig saws, vibrating sanders, side grinder with a sanding wheel attached, hammers, screw drivers, and safety glasses. Some cut out the paper cut outs of the figures, others traced them onto the plywood, some, held the wood for stability for accuracy, others sanded, others carried the figures over to the area for painting the black flat first. The powerful crescendo of four electrical saws and two sanders roaring in harmony drowned out any normal conversation. A radio was playing opera but could not be heard. The painters who were further away from the hum of the saws could talk to each other about their lives and their hopes. 

Sunday September 30, 2001 we had many speakers such as Dr. Claudia Chiesi, President of Harford Community College. I was so grateful to her for her statement of support with the funding ($1000) which made this all possible. Other speakers Joe Cassilly, State Attorney; Roni Chenowith, Council woman; Joanne S. Parrott, State representative; Jodi Finkelstein, State Attorney General's Office and a mother of one of the victims. 

Story about the mother: 
Dolores Friesner (Mother of Mary Mathiowdis) arrived and quietly waited for Leigh and myself. Her demeanor was non-intimidating and accepting. She sounded the same when I called to ask for her supportive attendance. She had been willing to share her victim impact letter with those who attended and asked that I read it. Leigh arrived and appeared calm and focused on being present for Dolores which might end up being a difficult time for her. They had taught elementary students for 18 years together. Leigh had been greatly impacted when she had heard about her friend's dreadful loss and told me working on the figures the week prior was a very powerful healing experience for her. It Was Leigh who contacted her friend at the Aegis to do a feature article hopefully that will be in the Weds. Aegis and she made the excellent poster showing the churches work in producing the figures. When the speakers were complete Rev. Lisa asked that all in attendance approach and surround the figures. 

As Dolores walked over she wanted to know which figure was her daughter's and I told her I was unsure. So she walked over to one covered figure to participate in collectively sending our message. Lisa asked that two people grab the plastic; others touch the shoulder of those pulling the plastic off the figures so that collectively we can send the positive energy to their courageous spirit. As the "body bags" were removed we repeated words in unison after Lisa. Dolores raised the plastic high over the head of the wooden figure she was near echoing the Lisa's words, "May the witness of your lives give us courage to stop the violence," her heart stopped as she read the shield, "Mary Mathiowdis, 38 years old February 5, 2001- Abingdon - shot to death in her home by live-in boyfriend subsequent to an argument. He shot her 18 times with an AK-47 assault rifle while her two terrorized daughters 10 and 12, and his son, hid in a closet." She told me she felt the spirit of Mary pass by her as chill bumps caused the hair on her arm to stand straight up. While she described this to me, tears welled in her reddened eyes. 

The figures were unveiled as we held hands and Lisa started us off on the closing song "Together, we can move mountains: Alone, we can't move at all." Lisa's voice alone was uplifting. She seemed to sing from way down deep to reach the heavens. That inspired the rest to sing with their heart. Lisa's soft, loving touches to the ceremony really made this unveiling powerful. 

Here is an article that was in the paper. And please feel free to go to http://www.uufhc.net/sw4.html And see photos and more description. 

*Dorothy, this is a very moving description of that event. Every time I hear these stories I KNOW again why we are doing this work. These events are healing events: for the families, for us, for the press, for the world.

Here is an additional note about the new artistic approach to DV, especially for Latin cultures, from a college student:

It is with pleasure I introduce you to young woman artist Sarah Sexton, a 2000 graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, who developed a creative and powerful display of woman pinata bodies that is receiving extensive recognition as a Latina culturally sensitive exhibit on domestic violence. For a senior art project, Sarah Sexton create greater-than-lifesize pinatas of teen-age women. Her message is that some people think you have to hit, physically abuse women/girls to get the treasure inside. Please visit the St. Olaf website to see Sarah's work online. She is also in the process of developing her own website. http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/art/student.html. Click on the photo that reads Festival of Senior Work Then click on the exhibition date April l5-April l9 Sarah's E-Mail is sext0048@tc.umn.edu

I have met with Sarah Sexton and find her to be a very talented woman, truly dedicated to women's issues, especially those linking culture and women's human rights. She told me it had been a tradition in her famly to create pinatas each year. As she was creating the pinatas for the St. Olaf art project, using her sisters as models, she began to sense the connection between violence against women, the fragility of women, especially during adolescence. The pinatas, as we know, are traditionally beaten to reveal the goods inside. Sarah Sexton feels that young women are emotionally and physically beaten by forces outside themselves, and even within.

Sarah chose to only particially cover the human plaster casts of the women pinatas with vibrantly colored pager, to demonstrate women's ability to hide OR expose selected aspects of their identitities in response to these forces. As we are approaching the holiday season, one of the festive times to enjoy pinatas, you may find this artistic concept interesting in your work on violence against women. Sarah is pleased if anyone uses here concept to do goodness. You may wish to contact her directly for further details, and I am sure she would appreciate knowing if you carry her ideas forward in some way in your community/country.

*The power of art continues to astound me. Silent Witness is so pleased to help introduce this new artist to the world of DV and healing. Go for it, Sarah.


Connie Peterson is replacing Helena Morris as the coordinator for SW in Henry county, Ohio. Thanks so much Helena, for your leadership in this county for these last several years. And welcome, Connie, to the Silent Witness network.

And this note within a day of the special request to write to Patrick O'Donnell:

Dear Janet,
Thank you so much for putting out the word with the Silent Witness network. I'm just now enjoying replying to many who have written. Thank you so much. Best wishes to you.

*The whole Silent Witness network is with you Patrick. Hold on to all that love.


Thanks to everyone involved in October events:
We are so grateful to all the groups, coordinators, and organizations that sponsored Silent Witness events this year. Our regional coordinators helped call the state coordinators to see what was happening. They are Marcia McKenzie (West) Cindy Wolfson and Debra Mize (Midwest), Nancy Rafi, Melanie Martin and Monica Blaizgis (Northeast), and Jo Manson (Southeast). We had 45 states on board this year and four countries.

John Peterson Award for Perpetrator Treatment:
It is time to give out the John Peterson Award to the state that has moved the farthest in successful perpetrator treatment. This year the honorable mention goes to Illinois and Montana who won the award last year. The award this year goes to Minnesota, specifically to Rose Mary Boerboom, who successfully completed the training manual for her new treatment program called the Self Mastery Workshop and taught her program to significant organizations in the treatment community in Minnesota. Her program is likely to revolutionize the treatment world and it is awesome to witness this development. Congratulations to Rose Mary on this accomplishment.

New "Colleges" web section:
Check out the new colleges section of our web site. www.silentwitness.net/sub/colleges.htm It has a lot of new ideas and support for making a Silent Witness exhibit or having an event on campus. Thanks to Monica Blaizgis for putting this together during the last two months while living through the tragedy in Manhattan. 

Let's link all the Silent witness stories and photos on the web:
We are ready to link all the web sites that show Silent Witness exhibits to our main site. Dorothy Lemmey has volunteered to do this for us. So what we need from you is the address of any web page that features Silent Witness projects, mentions the exhibit or results projects in a story, or contains a photo of you or the exhibit. We would also like a short paragraph description of what you are sending. We would like photos or stories from all over the world. We know there are several out there. Please email them to dotlemmey@aol.com ASAP

Amigas Awards, Women's Peacepower Foundation: 
DADE CITY, Florida. USA - The Women's Peacepower Foundation, Inc. announced that 25 women from around the world have been added to the
list of recipients of the annual Peacepower Amigas awards for 2001. Peacepower has given $170,976 in the form of 116 awards in 45 countries
since its inception. The 2001 winners include Pat Lupson of Silver Springs, Maryland and Diane Peterson of Tucson, Arizona.

Pat became involved with Silent Witness, a national program working to end violence in the family, because her daughter and two grandsons were burned to death in their home by her son-in-law. In 1997 she and her husband, Warren carried the figure of their daughter in the first Silent Witness March in Washington, DC.

They now go to prisons on a regular basis and tell their story to inmates, letting them know how the ripple effect of murder has affected
their lives. They also developed a web site that is visited by thousands of people each year. Pat flies around the country to various
Silent Witness cities to talk to communities about how her involvement with Silent Witness has helped in her healing. She has recently
initiated a 501 c (3) so that they can receive donations to further their cause of helping people to heal from acts of violence. Pat serves as a shining example of the importance of believing the world can be a better place, and then, with few resources setting out to
make a difference.

Diane Peterson, along with her husband, John, started the Silent Witness exhibit in Vermont. They got their friends and relatives to cut out and paint the figures. Then they transported the figures around the state to various group functions. When Rhode Island was considering making their exhibit, Diane drove several of her Vermont figures to a meeting in RI to encourage them to get started. 

At the national Silent Witness March to End the Silence in Washington DC in October of 1997, Diane and John personally brought the Vermont Silent Witness exhibit to Washington. They both spoke at the march about how they healed their marriage of domestic violence. Later it was reported that women who heard them speak decided that day to become leaders in their states in the Silent Witness effort. Diane and John appear in the Silent Witness video that explains so eloquently the development and passion that fuels this movement. After the march in Washington, Diane and John moved to Tucson and started rejuvenating the Arizona Silent Witness program. A year after they moved, John died of lung cancer and Diane has dedicated herself to working on Silent Witness in his memory. Now Silent Witness gives out a John Peterson award to the state that has moved the farthest with successful perpetrator treatment. 

They are two of 17 women honored in the U.S. The remainder of the winners are from around the world including Israel, South Africa, France, India, Kenya, Nepal and Northern Ireland. The Women's Peacepower Foundation, Inc. gives annual Amigas Awards to women around the world who are tirelessly working to bring peace to the everyday lives of women and their families. The award includes a $250 prize and an offer of technical assistance to grow their work through the Internet over the coming year.

I leave you today with a quote on gratitude--seems appropriate since I am so grateful for you and this is Thanksgiving month.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie




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