Nov. 24th 2000
Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope Thanksgiving gave you pause to consider what you are thankful for. And with Hanukkah and Christmas coming we all need to pause and let the poignancy of the season touch our lives. Even if there are difficulties this season there are people who care for us and who reach out to us. May you feel the compassion of the season for yourself and for others.
I am going on a short vacation to Spain in December so I will be out of the office for a few weeks (Dec. 4-15). If I don't respond to your requests promptly in December I hope you'll understand. Maybe I'll try to recruit some Silent Witness activists in Barcelona or Seville!! Be well and remember that you are angels of the highest order.
WELCOME NEW EMAIL CORRESPONDENTS:
Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, Agnes Maldonado (New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence), Ruth Walker (RN, Kentucky), Karen Egorin (Pittsburgh SW Coordinator: NCJW), Cindy Pisano (Unison Behavioral Health Group, Toldeo), Monica Ann Blaizgis (New York, welcome back!), Georgia Pinola (Sacramento SW Coordinator), Kay Nordeen (Friend of SW, Minneapolis), Jane Miller (Target Stores, Minneapolis), Patty Dorian (North Carolina Coalition, new exhibit coordinator)
NEWS FROM THE STATES/COUNTRIES:
This news from Sharon Loris in Sacramento, on one of our newest SW teams:
At our meeting yesterday, we made a decision to make some new silhouettes to reflect all the deaths since 1990. We plan to have a single silhouette per year with the statistics from that year on the shield. Once we complete that project, we will have information that goes back to the beginning of the Silent Witness Project. We are very excited about completing this new part of our project. As with any new group, we still struggle with going forward with little or no money, what to do next, and how to handle the problems which come up...but we just keep plugging on. We sincerely believe that this is an important step for this community. We will continue to keep you posted on our progress and activities. Thank you so much for being there.
*This is so exciiting that Sacramento will have a ten year exhibit to honor the years of SW. What a wonderful idea. Maybe other cities/states would want to do the same. And moving forward in small steps is what SW is all about, so we heartily support you in your efforts.
We are excited to announce that Hennepin County (Minneapolis) now has a dedicated court for domestic violence. This has taken several years to accomplish but we have high hopes that this will expedite cases and increase convictions. Jay Heffern, the City Attorney, says the court will begin this month. It will handle all domestic crimes from arraignment to sentencing, including assault, violation of protection orders, interference with 911 calls, violation of conditional release, temporary order for protection and arrests and detentions. Trails will be held within 45 days of arraignment. Chief Judge Kevin Burke announced this new first in the Fourth District.
*Great going MInnesota. Bring those murder rates down more and more and more.
Rose Mary Boerboom has already received two letters from people in the two states where she has done her Self Mastery Training recently. They expressed gratitude for her support and encouragement. They are implementing the model in both states and are enthusiastic about some of the changes they see already. And Montana is planning to start an evaluation program comparing her model with the one they are currently running so they can get some good research data (See next entry below). This is wondeful news and speaks well of her new efforts.
*Great news Rose Mary. Keep those successful models going so we can be part of the healing of this country.
Tracy Lakatua writes us with great news from the Missoula front:
I've talked with Rick Kumm, the therapist who runs two groups for court-ordered men here in town,
and he has officially agreed to do a pilot program of Rose Mary Boerboom's treatment model! He'll do it side-by-side with a regular group so we can compare outcomes. He's got a network of counselors in Western Montana who he thinks would also be interested, and now he'll be talking to them, as well. We've agreed to meet as a group every other month or so to talk about how things are developing and what else is needed to support this effort (the medium- and longer-term things like a coordinated court system, etc.). Rose Mary is going to be in contact with Rick so they can talk about the best ways to set it up, look at results and things like that.
*This is great news and happened so quickly after the training in Montana it has my head spinning. Thanks for the prompt action. We'll wait with high expectations for the research results.
Cindy Pisano who I met on my travels in Ohio this summer, is part of an exciting new venture, working with women victims of violence (mostly battered women) in a community mental health setting. Several parts of this program are unique including the fact that the contacts with these women are in their homes or in their neighborhoods. They serve women 18 and older and get referrals from several agencies in the community. They use a therapist to do the counseling and interventions as well as the diagnostic assessments. Included in the behaviors they see are adjustment problems, Post
Traumatic Stress, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Generally the therapist makes up to 10 visits on a weekly basis and offers groups too (with free transportation). Issues of childhood abuse, family of origin issues and safety planning are all included in treatment. Referrals are made for mentoring, shelters, legal aid, substance abuse etc.
So far the results have been incredible after only two years. Only 11%
drop out and only 2 of 184 were recidivists (they went back to substance abuse treatment again). Many of the women have gone back to school, finished their GEDs, started work or have gone back to work. 90% say they met their goals at a very high level and 10% said they met their goals somewhat. 100% said they are better able to cope, that they would have not received service if it weren't for this program and that they would recommend it to others. And perhaps the best news for communities, it costs only $348 per client!!! The program is called Project Reach.
If you would like to know more about this program or how to start one in your community email Cindy Pisano at
*Great going Cindy and Company. Keep up the great work and let us know about the ongoing results. This is very exciting.
The Public Awareness Committee of the Josephine County Domestic Violence Council awarded Silent Witness a Purple Ribbon Award to recognize our support of the dignity and rights of citizens to lead lives free of abuse and coercion. We truly appreciate this award and we are pleased that Grants Pass has used their new Silent Witness exhibit so successfully this fall. Thank you especially to
Rebecca Zwart, the facilitator of the committee who gave us this commendation.
*Keep up the good work, Rebecca and Company.
Steven Stosny completed a two-day training program in Rhode Island in early November. Here is a brief report of that training:
RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Women's Resource Center of Newport & Bristol Counties
Child & Family Services - Providence
Newport Partnerships for Families
CODAC (Batterer's intervention program in Newport, RI & New Bedford, MA)
University of Rhode Island
RI Victim Advocacy & Support Center
Sojourner House (Battered women's shelter in Providence)
The evaluations of the session were quiet positive and Nancy Rafi, the coordinator of this event was pleased with the training. It is a new approach to DV treatment for RI so it might take awhile for it to get into circulation but the exciting part was that most of the clinicians who were there had never met each other - and some interesting dialogue occurred as a result. Perhaps a support group of some sort will develop among these service providers.
Also on the RI scene, we got this message from Melanie Martin who is our SW College specialist:
I got in touch with Holly, the student from Providence College. I took 5 witnesses with me and
displayed them in their student center. We had a lot of interesting reactions from men and women. It raised a good amount of awareness and a lot of people wanted information on Silent Witness.
*Such good news from RI on several fronts. Keep up the grassroots efforts and there will be wonderful results.
NEWS FROM WORLDWIDE HEADQUARTERS:
SILENT WITNESS 10TH ANNIVERSARY FUNDRAISER:
In November Gail Arthur and Rose Mary Boerboom held a fabulous fund raiser to honor the 10th Anniversary of Silent Witness. We showed the SW video and talked about our goals and successes since the March in Washington. Jill Breckenridge (one of our founders) introduced the two poems she wrote for our anniversary and took our breath away with her artistry. Another artist, Melia Lott, who lost her business partner to a domestic violence homicide this summer, came and brought one of her latest painting, a striking and sensuous red nude. It had such a striking similarity in color to the Silent Witnesses. She has a current show of these nudes and is giving 10% of the show to Silent Witness. For those of you who live in
Minnesota, her gallery is Galerie Melia at 288 Water Street in Excelsior. Go and buy one for a Holiday present and support Silent Witness as well.
Rose Mary taught us her new emotional regulation model so we all left feeling empowered and alive. We laughed and cried and celebrated the wonderful energy that is part of the Silent Witness Initiative. And we even met our fund raising goal with donations that evening and those that were mailed in. We are so grateful to Gail and Rose Mary on so many levels. Their support has been immeasurable.
FOUNDATION OFFERS ANNUAL AWARDS:
The Women's Peacepower Foundation, Inc. offers annual awards to individuals who have made
exemplary contributions to the field of domestic violence. This includes a cash prize. You can nominate anyone and they will be notified next fall if they received the award. Silent Witness has gotten one of these awards and we were very grateful. Their guidelines are on their web site along with this year's winners. P.O. Box 2056, Dade City, FL 33526 phone: (352)567-9116 fax: (352)567-0809
eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
see her web site at: http://www.peacepower.org
JILL BRECKENRIDGE, ONE OF THE SW FOUNDERS, WROTE TWO POEMS FOR OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY.
I would like to give you Jill's two poems as a gift from Silent Witness with our blessing, to savor and use personally or at SW events. Just be sure to give Jill the credit for these poems when you read them or print them. If you would like to thank Jill personally for these poems, her email is
Jill was one of the Silent Witness founders and is an award winning poet. I wanted you to have a little bit of information about her so you can appreciate what a gift she is to us and how special her work is.
In 1990, Jill Breckenridge won The Bluestem Award, judged by William Stafford, for her book of personal poems, How To Be Lucky. Her sequence of poetry and prose about the Civil War period, Civil Blood, was published by Milkweed Editions. The book was nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award and the American Library Association's Notable Books of 1986. Jill's awards include Loft-McKnight Writers' Awards in both creative prose and poetry, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, and two State Arts Board Grants.
She co-authored Raised Voices, a performance piece about domestic violence, with Roseann Lloyd in 1992. It was performed at Penumbra Theater, St. Paul, and other theaters. Her prose piece, "The Horoscope Promises Me A Mother's Gift," is included in the 1997 national anthology, From Daughters to Mothers: I've Always Meant to Tell You, published by Pocket Books. She is completing a novel,
The House of Birds, and another collection of poems, The Gravity of
Throat, Knife, Words
I couldn't cry the day my mother died.
She was shy, never good with words.
She thought that vodka made her droll.
She stored her bottles with the toilet paper.
She stuffed and zipped them into winter boots.
She hid them under Idaho potatoes.
My father drank martinis from a pitcher.
He floated olives in them, little ice.
My mother ran her car into the streetlight.
My father ran his fist into her face.
At six, I knew that secrets saved your life.
I hid the butcher knife beneath the sheets.
My heart gave back our nightmare in the light:
He strangled her against my cowboy spread.
His hands around her neck, her face turned blue.
I meant to run the knife between his ribs.
He heard me yell, I'm going to kill you, Daddy!
My father knocked the knife out of my hand.
Slumping to the floor, he sobbed till dawn.
He never hit her in the face again.
The day she died, she put her make-up on.
I wanted us to say what was unsaid.
Cancer of the throat, she couldn't speak.
We never found the words to make it right.
(Jill wants you to know that this poem is written in iambic pentameter for those of you who are poetry afficianados! And it is autobiographical. This poem will be included in her new book of poems,
The Gravity of Flesh.)
SILHOUETTES IN RED
We'd turn in every Silent Witness
to have one woman back alive,
but we can't--they're dead.
Carol, the homemaker; Marie, the
doctor; Bea, the alcoholic; Dawn,
the lawyer. Golden shields tell
their stories: Each woman killed
by gun or knife or fist, or ways
more unimaginable. The lonely woman
run down by her lover in his car,
the one shot by her dentist husband
as she held the hands of her two kids,
the one stabbed in front of the Court-
house as she went to get an Order for
Protection. Nothing saved them.
Not the love of their parents or
children, not their friends or
neighbors, not the courts or police.
These red figures, symbols of horror,
symbols of hope, help us keep
our promise to never forget their
lives, their stories; help us keep
our pledge to stop this carnage,
to make this world safe for all women.
When a room fills with Silent Witnesses,
all who have been there testify
that the spirits of these murdered
women--our dead mothers, sisters,
and daughters--are there with us.
Women, throughout the world, who
can't afford to make red figures
are given them by ardent volunteers.
Soon, no borough or county will lack
their presence, their determination
to change the world. They stand tall,
reminding us of the job to be done;
they march, reminding us that,
although dead, they will not be
stilled, they will not be stopped.
Nor will we be stopped, the living,
who mourn the loss of women we knew
and women we didn't know. We carry
them, our silent partners, as we
continue to work together in peace,
to heal and forgive, as we continue
to spread the fruit and seed of their
thwarted love and justice throughout
the universe until this killing ends.
Jill Breckenridge, for Silent Witness' 10th Anniversary Celebration.
I leave you today with a quote I got from a college student I correspond with: It is amazing and touched my heart today:
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
May we each help rekindle someone else's inner spirit in the same way in which they have done that for us.