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December 21, 2001


Dear Friends,
Last week I celebrated one of my Holiday traditions, the festival of Santa Lucia on December 13th. It is a Swedish custom for young girls to get up early, dressed in white and wearing a crown of candles, and bring ginger cookies, safron bread and coffee to family members. It signifies the bringing of light into one of the darkest, shortest days of the year in this hemisphere. 

I love the tradition because I think bringing light to any endeavor is heart warming. And it reminds me of Silent Witness. We bring light and hope to the tragic issue of domestic violence. So... light and hope to you this Holiday season.

Amber Murray (New SW Coordinator, DV Council, Lane County, OR), Melinda Swanepoel (Friend of Silent Witness, Sasol Company, South Africa), Jamita Potter (SW Coordinator, South Bend, IN, re-subscribed), Juriel Foltz (Public Awareness Coordinator. Virginians Against DV).



This is a summary of a story that appeared in the Northstar Weekly in Fairbanks, AK.

A happy ending to a sad story comes to us from Fairbanks. Brienne Barnes' mother, Annette, was murdered by her father who then committed suicide in February of 1997. Her death was the reason the Alaska AAUW chose to create the Silent Witness exhibit. But the murder/suicide left Brienne orphaned. The uncle who took over her care spent the money in the trust fund that was reserved for her. When he was taken to court, Brienne again had nowhere to go. An angel, Joyce Parks, a long term friend of her mother, petitioned the court to become Brienne's legal guardian. 

During the court case of her uncle, Brienne learned that she had a sister that few people knew about. The sister had been given up for adoption. That sister, Marci Yule, had been searching for her biological family ever since she was a young girl and had only contacted her biological mother days before she was murdered. Marci now knew that she had a sister and she kept searching for her. She finally found Joyce Parks and started the wheels in motion to meet her sister. That reunion took place in November at a celebration of Brienne's 16th Birthday. The two came together in a very emotional meeting and they later went together to see their mother's grave. It is an amazing story and even more so due to the tragic circumstances that brought them together. We all wish Brienne the best and we congratulate the AAUW in Alaska for continuing to tell Annette's story.

Cayman Islands:

We just received a note from Renee Hannas, one of the SW activists in the Cayman Islands. They have just finished their 16 Days Campaign against Domestic Violence which went very well. They are elated that the government has just approved $250,000 toward the funding of a safe house for women in the Caymans. This is the first safe house ever on the island. What an historic day for them. We are elated too, since they are our great friends and just hosted Rosalind and Janet for a week's worth of DV Awareness and strategic planning. Go for it, all of you wonderful women!!

This great GREAT news from our friend, Patrick O'Donnell, who so many of your wrote to last month:

Thank you so much for your e-mail. I'm very happy to tell you that my latest bone scan and CT scan did not show any "suspicious" areas, as the doctors say. The 10" titanium rods holding my back together are right where they are supposed to be, and the bone fusion in the back is happening just the way it is supposed to. So, that is all very good news. I'm not running in any marathons, but I'm getting around just fine. Still a lot of pain in the back, but it's pain related to muscles and nerves healing, not a tumor.

In other news, we are nearing completion of the two-hour version of City of Shelter, which is meant for general public viewing. In other City of Shelter news, the eight-hour series was recently translated into Russian for use in Croatia. Closer to home, we received a foundation grant to distribute City of Shelter to agencies that respond to domestic violence in three Arizona counties and one county in New Mexico. In each county, the seven agencies that are most frequently involved in domestic violence training/awareness will receive the series. We hope City of Shelter is a tool that will bring agencies closer together in coordinating the response to domestic violence.

*Thanks, Pat, for this fabulous medical news. And we are thrilled that so many cities are using City of Shelter. This is how the healing will happen in the world, if we all ban together.


We received this heart warming message from Sheri Minkoff, part of our great SW effort in Pennsylvania:
Many groups have purchased our six inch cardboard red silhouettes. These silhouettes are an extremely useful tool when trying to get the message out. 

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, volunteers spread out across the Pittsburgh area to ensure that our life size silhouettes were prominently displayed. Silhouettes along with literature were displayed in stores downtown and neighbor business districts. 

Our current project is creating a small fact sheet. This informational piece will be placed in women's and men's public bathrooms on the inside of stall doors. 

The holidays are historically a difficult time for many people and domestic violence tends to increase. Let's all work together to educate the public and save just one person.

*Sheri, thanks for all this great work, and especially for creating the new 6inch cardboard figures. They are perfect for so many things and it was a real service for SW. 

Rhode Island:
Karen from the RI Coalition wrote us about this GREAT free resource on teen violence:

Teen dating violence materials: We just completed an incredibly successful public awareness campaign here in Rhode Island geared to teens. We have posters, help-line cards, bulletin inserts, merchandize, a website for teens, TV and radio ads, etc. The cool new thing we developed is a Resource Guide for Educators that has information on teen dating violence, how to talk to a victim, lesson plans, etc. We are more than happy to send folks a sample packet of materials from the campaign. Just email me or call me for a sample packet. Email is ritarheel@ricadv.org ph 401-47-9940.

Public Awareness Campaign
* Point of purchase displays --- localized * English/Spanish includes 8 1/2 x 11 posters and Helpline cards *Display posters
* Resource Guide for Educators * Merchandize for teens stickers, keychains, purple ribbons * Handbooks --- English/Spanish * Bulletin inserts --- English/Spanish * Purple ribbon cards * Conference materials --- brochure, packet

* Radio ad *TV ad *Billboards * Bus ads (interior/exterior) *Talk shows (radio/TV) --- local gigs * Feature stories --- local stories
* National stories * Website * Banners --- localized

* DVAM press conference and kick-off event * Faith awareness --- All month * Regional conference --- Date: Tuesday and Wednesday, October 9th - 10th * Yellow Dress Play --- Date: Week of October 22nd * Activities in schools --- Date: All month

*Thanks, Karen, for this great resource. The copy you sent was really impressive. We need to give teens all the support possible. What's the website for RI teens?

South Africa:

Here are excerpts of a letter I received from Melinda, a wonderful woman in South Africa who is trying to do something about the mounting violence in that country. She may be able to find a group who wants to work directly on domestic violence and start a Silent Witness exhibit. I wanted you to hear the passion and the pain that is coming from that country.

I love my country very much as well. If I can give you a little background on myself before I reply on your comments, I live an hour and
a half away from Johannesburg; my town is quite smaller compared to the big city. The 'lifeblood' of the town is a big and impressive
petrochemical giant in SA called Sasol. I am quite proud of being associated with this company. I am quite an admirer of Nelson Mandela
too, he feels to me like the BIG GRANDFATHER of SA!

Our country is in pain due to the growing rate of violence Janet, and the ordinary person do not know how to take it all in and how to
contribute in some way to the healing of a nation so gripped in violence and fear. Therefore an exhibition, I believe is a very effective way of reaching the ordinary person on the street. I think that it also does not have any hidden expenses to set up an exhibition. 

I see so many possibilities for healing in this way in my country. A very sad fact that I so much want to deny is that our children is being
abused and raped by even their own families. And it is dreadfully shocking and so mind-boggling that a baby only 5 months old is raped by
family and ends up in hospital with multiple injuries! We can't even imagine that, and you can't find healing in justice due to the fact that our justice system is just not mature enough yet to handle this. That is how I believe it is. 

Maybe the victims might feel that doing this won't change the past - but I DO BELIEVE that it can change the future. I believe that if a number of people focus there love on one another, that there is some kind of magic that can bring a powerful healing onto a nation!

As far as the Silent Witness exhibit I would love to get involve or start the ball rolling! You can send me the basic requirements that are
incorporated with initiating the exhibit. Whereas I feel necessary I can supply you with the correct contact lists here in South Africa.

You may definitely add my name to your newsletter's distribution list.

Keep well

*Melinda, thank you for this insiders view of the violence in South Africa. And thank you for sharing your passion. I hope we can work together to bring healing and peace to your country. I know it is possible. You are the country of the giants of peace, Nelson Mandala and Bishop Tutu.

Ashley Peterson, our SW coordinator in Texas, at the Texas Council on Family Violence wrote this great news:

Verizon Wireless recently placed 80 Silent Witnesses at its stores throughout Texas to educate employees and the public about the Silent Witness program and the issue of domestic violence. Verizon Wireless stores in the following areas had four to five Silent Witnesses: Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Lewisville, McAllen, McKinney, Mesquite, Mission, Round Rock, San Antonio, San Marcos, Tyler, and Waco. To kick off the program and its partnership with TCFV, Verizon wireless donated $2,001 to signify this year and the start of a new Silent Witness program in Texas. Verizon wireless has been using its technology for more than six years to aid victims of domestic violence. 

*Thanks! Ashley for all this wonderful effort to get the Witnesses out around the state. And what a great partnership with Verizon. Maybe other states can use that as an example for other corporate partnerships.

Joriel Foltz is joining the SW network from Virginia. She write us from Williamsburg:

I am the Public Awareness Coordinator at Virginians Against Domestic Violence, the state coalition. I've been working with Claire Sheppard, an advocate and survivor whose daughter was murdered in a domestic violence situation, on getting the Silent Witness project going in Virginia. We're currently recruiting a committee, and we have a meeting planned in January. One of our ideas, in addition to encouraging people to make figures and planning a major event in the capitol for October, was to use the Silent Witness image as part of a billboard. 

*Thanks for this great note, Joriel. We are thrilled to have another SW presence in VA and it will be especially healing for Claire to work with you. Let us know how it goes.


Save this date: Media Matters Conference on DV and media/public relations , June 5-7, 2002

National "Media Matters" conference in Rhode Island, June 5th-June7th. The audience is national, local, and state domestic violence advocates who do media/pr work at their agency. The goal is to build skills and also to strategize as a movement on how to better get out our anti-violence messages. The Silent Witnesses of RI will appear at the conference along with information about Silent Witness.
For more information contact Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence 422 Post Rd, Suite 202 Warwick, RI 02888 Phone: 401-467-9940
Fax: 401-467-9943 website: www.ricadv.org

New Additions to our web site:
Be ready for some really cool additions to our web site in the new year. I spent the morning with our web master and we have some great ideas that you will love. Just to tantalize you, we'll have a place for you to go and light a candle and then send in the name of someone you lit the candle for, or you can send in a message for yourself. I can't wait myself.

Thanks again:

Thank you to all of you who have sent cards or donations during this Holiday season. We really appreciate all the gestures of good will and the kind words about Silent Witness. If any of you are still interested in donating to SW before the end of the year, we are fully tax deductible and, as you know, we do good things!! Send a check to Silent Witness 20 Second St. N.E. Suite 1101 Mpls, MN 5413.

I leave you today with two messages, one a Talugu Proverb, the other a message about Soulforce. The Talugu Provery seemed appropriate for today, the shortest and darkest day of the year in this hemisphere:

When three women join together the stars come out in broad daylight.

*We have thousands of women. What do you think that will do to the universe???

The concept of Soulforce was developed by Tolstoy and Gandhi and is described here by Martin Green, in an introduction he wrote for a book by Tolstoy: He says they both manifested a special paradoxical force of forcelessness which entered into history and altered it. Soulforce, as they sometimes called it, usually operates on a different wavelength from material or political force--its effects are not to be measured by the same standards. 

But every now and then, when one person induces others literally to believe in soulforce, it enters into bodies and masses and actions--a beam of light passes into solid matter and moves it.

2002 will be a year of soulforce within Silent Witness. At this Holiday time, may all of you discover your own soulforce. 



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