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May 28 Newsletter

It is Memorial Day weekend. It is an important time to remember all those who have died, loved ones we miss and will always remember. This is a special day to remember all the thousands of Silent Witnesses from every state. Remember their families. Honor them. Pledge on this weekend once again to work together to end domestic violence and eliminate domestic homicides by the year 2010.

Remember Judy Ann, Margarita, Nihal, Bonnie, Judith, Patricia, Gina, M.J.,Nancy, Carrie, Pamela, Mary Sue, Gertrude, Robin, Angela, Joann, Jennifer, Allsion, Michelle, Ruby, Kim, Alicia, Linda Rae, Susan, Barbara, Carmen, Lorraine, Erin, Crista, Janet, Rhonda, Betty, Antionette, Thereas, Karen, Helen, Jackie, Tina, Susan, Stacey Sylvia, Rebekah, Linda, Irene, Amy Regina, Debra, Mary and all the other Silent Witnesses.

As I’ve continued calling or emailing all the state coordinators out there I am finding out there is much more happening than I could imagine. So most of the newsletter this week will be devoted to what you angels are doing out there to heal this country. I hope you are immensely proud of yourselves, as we are of you. 


WELCOME NEW EMAIL CORRESPONDENTS: We now have more than 380 people on our email network, all working together to end DV and heal this country.

Deborah Donahue (DV Services, Carlisle, PA), Susan Clark (shelter, Jr. League, Lawton, OK), Liz Hooley (SW Coordinator, Jr. League, Lawton, OK), Marcia McKenzie (AAUW, advocate, Alaska; new email address),Julie Grant (prosecutors office, Grand Rapids, MI), Verlaine Gullickson (Coalition, South Dakota), Debra (Metro St. Louis Shelter, Prevention Manager), Julia Runnels (Great Falls, VA), Shirley Madow (friend of SW, MN), Sharon Sigmon (Arkansas Coalition, new email address), Marcia Smith (Oklahoma Coalition), Sandra Majors (Washington, DC Coalition), Kristen Giatzis (Jr. League, N. Westchester County, NY), Linda Snelling (SC Silent Witness) David Peterson (Silent Witness web master, MN).


MORE RESULTS: I just found out that there have been NO domestic homicides in Minneapolis this year. Our rates have been dropping steadily for the last several years. 1995(6) DV homicides, 1996(5) ,1997(4) , 1998(2) , 1999(0) I’m going to find out how I can track other large cities faster than the FBI reports which take a year to process. This is pretty exciting.



DEADLINE FOR RESERVATIONS IS JUNE 4. We’re going to have a wonderful time. So far people from FIVE STATES are coming to the meeting. Great news!!

We’ll focus on two of the Results Projects with people who’ve made them happen presenting how they accomplished these feats. And you’ll find out how your own unique learning style will help you move forward in your state. We’ll share ideas and meet new people.

Remember to meet us in the Adams Mark Hotel restaurant at 5:00 pm on Friday for dinner. We’ll have coffee and dessert at 7:00 in our meeting room and you’ll have a chance to hear what everyone is doing in their state. Come prepared to share your adventures of Silent Witness with us.

We’ll be at the Adams Mark Hotel in downtown St. Louis, 4th and Chestnut. $135 Single/double Tel. 314-241-7400. Cost for whole meeting, $50.00 Includes opening lunch, coffee, snacks, speakers, and materials.

Your check for $50 is your reservation. Send it to Barb Zipperman 436 Penn Av.

So. Mpls, MN 55405. Visa/MC accepted. Call 612-377-8012 email hbzip@aol.com







The Jr. League of Harrisburg has handed-off their Silent Witness figures to two organizations in the area, the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg (Toni O’Brien) and The DV Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties (Deborah Donahue). Deborah says the Witnesses have already been to two big events in her area, the Take Back the Night March at a University in April and a Community Center for an art auction as a fund raiser for her agency. They made big statements in both places.

*Thanks to Karen Johnston and her committee at the JR. League of Harrisburg for all their work on this project. Well done, team.




News from Jan Abbey of Safehome in Kansas City: She says the Witnesses in Kansas have been busy going to several highly visible places like county fairs, libraries and shopping malls. They spent time at the biggest shopping mall in Dodge City which was quite a coup. The group that has used the Witnesses the most in Kansas is the Business and Professional Women (BPW).

*Thanks Jan, and thanks for the wonderful collaboration from BPW. Great work.




A sobering update from Paulina Gyan of the Delaware Coalition:

Our witnesses have been very busy this spring, showing up at numerous events. They were displayed at a Women’s conference at the University of DE sometime in March. The interesting thing though, was that we had to set up overnight and one of the students thought he could "borrow" one of the child figures for his dorm. We reported the missing witness to university Police, giving them pictures and a description of the figure. Fortunately, it was found in one of the dorms but the plaque that had the biography was destroyed. The student responsible will be standing trial some time this month.

At another event, the witnesses were given a "human face" by having someone read their biographies in the first person and commenting on the effect their death has had on their families. This was done with the lights out and candles lit. It was very moving.

We get calls every now and then to have them displayed. It is always our hope that whereever they are displayed it impacts someone to make changes in his/her life or reach out and help someone in trouble.

*Thanks Paulina. Your Witnesses are having a strong impact. More power to you.




Celia Heady from the Idaho Council on DV has great news for us.

In June they are putting on a three day seminar on Court Watch, to teach people in their state how to set up programs for victims of crime. They already have two Court Watch programs in their state in Nampa and in Post Falls. In just a few weeks they are putting on a state wide conference on Violence and expect it will have a great impact on their programming.

They have three sets of Witnesses in Idaho; Post Falls, Caldwell, and Idaho Falls. They expect to have Witness exhibits in Boise and Blackfoot soon.

*Wow, Results Programs are leaping forward in Idaho. Great work Celia and friends. Now let’s watch those DV murder rates go down.




Susan Clark who runs a shelter in Lawton and is also in the Jr. League there tells us that there is a lot of action in OK these days. They have one set of SW figures in Lawton and the Coalition in OK City has made another set of more than 100 to give to all the shelters in the state.

In Lawton they are gradually making new sets of figures of the PVC plastic. Their figures have appeared at the capitol in OK City, at Walmart and at a DV Training Session.

*Thank you Susan and company. Their new coordinator is Liz Hooley of the JR.

League of Lawton. More power to all of you in OK.




Bonnie of the Eastside Domestic Violence Program in Seattle told us that their Witnesses have been moving around in Washington, to hospitals, high schools, a nurses conference, the YWCA, a court house, an army base, and community education programs. The web site for their organization is www.edvp.org

At a recent Silent Witness exhibition in Sequim/Port Townsend the local VFW sponsored a web site for the exhibit and had public TV at the event. A local policeman spoke and did something that was very moving for the audience. He put the Unknown Woman Witness on a table partially removed from the body bag that is used for transporting her. Then he put a crime scene tape around the table and put a sign on it saying "Don’t let this be you." What a powerful idea. They also showed the exhibit to perpetrators in the jail and they were moved as well.

The women in Washington have designed an 8" Silent Witness cardboard figure that they use for publicity and information purposes. For example, they send the figure to people who call about the exhibit It is a wonderful conversation starter and can be put on someone’s desk as a reminder of what we are all about. They are for sale from the designer for $107.50 (250 pieces) $165 (500) plus shipping and a one time fee for personalized printing on the shields. The designer is Trade Letterpress Services, Pete Sankalis, 425-485-8659. Fax 425-485-9841.

Bonnie sent us several copies of the 8" figure and we are ordering them for the National Initiative right away. They are awesome. I hope you try using them. We’ll have samples at the Steering Committee meeting along with order forms. They would be great to use for fund raising and for legislative reminders. The designer Pete, his wife, Janet, and their family are active in DV shelters and they encourage others to get involved as well. This is a wonderful connection for us.

*Thanks for all this great information Bonnie and Company. It is so exciting to see all the creativity and hard work that is going on all over. We’re putting in our order for SW miniature figures right away.




Wonderful news from Leslie Frost in W. Morris, New Jersey: They’ve been working as a Crisis Response Team there, working with a strong presecution program with dedicated staff assigned to DV cases. Leslie has seen definite attitude changes within the system toward DV in just the last two years. THEY HAVE HAD NO DV HOMICIDES SINCE 1995.

New legislation has passed in NJ closing the loopholes in DV and police and judges get annual training on DV issues.

NCJW has put on multiple programs within the Jewish community and the first forum in 1997 attracted 600 people. Last year they had 1300 at the DV forum. And her programming is under way for this year. How many will they get this year???

The Jr. League of Bergen County is planning on adopting the Silent Witnesses in NJ for several months so they can tour them around that area.

*There is a lot happening in NJ, Leslie. Thanks a million for all the fine work and all the results from so many people. We love to see that homicide rate dropping.

And from Anne Adamiak of Middlesex County DV Coalition:

In response to your request for updates regarding SW exhibits planned for October, in New Jersey, the Middlesex County Coalition of DV Crisis Intervention Teams has again (for the 3rd consecutive year) been invited to present our exhibit on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick. We present our exhibit under the auspices of the Rutgers University Office of Sexual Assault and Crime Victim Prevention. Our exhibit has been extended to 7 full days culminating with a candlelight vigil including poetry reading and a songfest. In addition, many of our teams individually will be displaying SW silhouettes in their local libraries, municipal buildings, and schools.

*Way to go, Anne. We’ll be looking forward to hearing the great reports of the impact this week long program had on everyone.




Geri Hayes wrote us this about their activities in Sarasota:

Silent Witnesses are alive in Sarasota. On April 29th our first Witnesses debuted at our County-wide Victim Vigil. The service was held in a local church and the figures (3 women, 2 boys) from 1998 were standing in front of the church. We have hung the shields from black & blue ribbons around their necks. Right before the service began, we carried them inside and placed them to the left of the sanctuary, to silently witness the event.

The reactions were tremendous, especially from the family members. It was my pleasure to work with the families to get to know the victims, in order to prepare the bios for the shields. Two of the three families involved live locally, but the third I have only met via phone. I will meet them later this week, on May 13th, when the Witnesses will be present at a candle-light dedication service for the Victim’s Walkway in the courtyard of our new Judicial Center.

Our funds only enabled us to purchase figures for 1998, but we secured extra shields so we can prepare the bios for the 1996 & 1997 victims as well. (Our Task Force started in 1996.) The organization behind the figures is our Coalition to STOP Family Violence. The group is a collaborative between local chapters of AAUW, NCJW, League of Women Voters, Zonta Int’l and N.O.W.

The Coalition is gaining membership and thereby providing additional venues for the Witnesses to be displayed. We have had interest from other organizations like the Grey Panthers and civic groups from some of the smaller towns in the county. Some of the organizations have planned their budgets to sponsor a figure to help us complete the past years. We, thankfully, have not had a homicide so far this year.

We are just about one year old, but the reality of the Witnesses, is a major accomplishment so far. Our next project is CourtWatch.

*That’s a lot to do in such a short time, Geri. What a lot of enthusiasm you have generated. Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work. We’ll be looking for that Court Watch. 

I also talked with Stephanie Lighter, from the Boca del Ray NCJW section in Florida.

They are so excited about how well their Court Watch program is going that they are expaning it to criminal courts in their area soon. This is very good news. They can see the changes already and it inspires them to move forward.

Stephanie is also on the State’s Attorneys Task Force and they are planning on doing wonderful events in October as they did last year.

*I’m so pleased to hear that Court Watch is going so well. It takes a lot of effort to put these things together. Thanks Stephanie and Company.




News from Johnson City comes from Terry Brasfield of the Jr. League:

The Tennessee Jr League has 8, count them 8 Silent Witness exhibits in all the major cities! They’ve made 25 new Witnesses and have spread them around the state to cities like Knoxville, Chatagooga, Nashville, Johnson City etc.

They have appeared various places including the State Capitol. A particularly touching event was a large luncheon at a Knoxville hospital in honor of a nurse who had been murdered. The Witnesses spoke eloquently and gave special meaning to the woman’s life.

They are also working with a program called CCI which deals with perpetrators and another that works with survivors.More information on that later.

Laurie Rummell of the Nashville NCJW section reported recently that they are going strong with their Witnesses as well. They have advocates in place now to assist women seeking Orders of Protection. They help them fill out the OOP forms, and distribute information and literature on getting help.

*Tennessee is going strong and we are grateful to the Jr League and NCJW for all their efforts. With strong collaborations like these we are moving forward rapidly.




I had a great conversation with Cindy from the Grand Island Crisis Center. They started out with 5 Witnesses and have added new ones each year to update their exhibit. Their original exhibit was made by a high school shop class. What a marvelous way to get the young people in the community involved.

Their 20 Witnesses have traveled to court houses, hospitals, shopping malls and colleges. They also loan their Witnesses to other groups for their events.

*It sounds like the Nebraska Silent Witnesses are very busy. Thanks for all your good work Cindy. We’ll look forward to our collaboration with the new coordinator, Mary Rock.




The newest set of Silent Witnesses are in Colorado, created and sponsored by Lisa Maloney, at the Center for the Prevention of DV in Colorado Springs. She worked hard to get this exhibit finished and they had an October event with them last fall. Colorado College has used the exhibit as well, in their Take Back the Night march this spring.

*Nice work Lisa. The Witnesses are making their presence known and they will never quit telling their stories. Thanks for your good work.




Jan Fuhr brought me up to date on the current activities in the CT collaboration.

Their Mayor’s Task Force on DV is just finishing a report on what Danbury has in place, what they don’t have in place and how they intend to move forward as a result.

Besides a very active SW exhibit, they have a victim advocate who goes on every call with the police. And they have a lawyer who comes two days a week and works with victims at no charge.

They are particularly interested in a Vertical Court Room which is being tried successfully in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury. Judge Larry Hauser is a strong advocate of this kind of court in which the same people (including judges, advocates, probation officers) see all the DV cases. It makes the court more efficient and can work more personally with both victims and perpetrators.

*Go Connecticut. We are so excited about your activities and look forward to your future plans as they emerge from the Task Force.




Here’s a request from Nicky Niles Arguello, our coordinator in Texas. They are sending out the Silent Witness Story to shelters in Texas and need updates from all of you on what you have done differently with your Silent Witnesses since the book came out so they can spread the latest ways of doing things. Here’s what Nicky is requesting:

Have people think back to when they were just building their exhibits.. what changes or modifications did they make and what strategies did they employ... For example, the cardboard and plastic witnesses or the different ways to make the plaques and stands or to transport them or to notify family or to research their stories or to exhibit... the list is endless. Any information that people would be willing to share or any information that you have already collected would be very useful to our folks.


The Texas Council on Family Violence
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, Texas 78716
(512) 794-1133




The ever faithful Petersons, Diane and John are still coordinating the Silent Witnesses in Tucson. They are the couple who both spoke at the March in Washington and who are on our SW video tape: Here’s some mindboggling news for you.

Remember John is the man who I asked you all to email with good wishes because we found out that he had aggressive lung cancer just before Christmas. Lots of you came through and sent him emails from all over the country. He told us in a previous newsletter that the day Diane brought that stack of emails to him he felt more uplifted than he ever had before and felt there were people out there who really cared about him.

Along with his treatments and love from his family and friends, he said that our support of him has helped him a great deal. He said that his next doctor’s visit showed that his lymph nodes were back to normal size.

Well, listen to this. John in almost finished with his chemotherapy treatments and his tumors have shrunk 80%. He feels like he is in the middle of a miracle. His life has become precious to him and he is so grateful. He thanks us again for all our caring. So know that you angels out there really made a difference once again.




Sharon Montignano of the Victim Services Division of the AGs office has wonderful news for us:
Earlier this year she sponsored a Stosny Treatment Training program for 65 people in the Domestic Violence field in Wyoming, the first such training to include all these groups that we know of. The participants represented Domestic Violence Shelter Programs, Mental Health Programs, the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Department of Corrections, Probation & Parole, Abusers Re-education Programs, District Attorney’s Office, an Advocate from the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department Advocates, and folks representing the WY Penitentiary and Honor Farm.

The feedback from the program was excellent and four of those groups are starting programs already. It is so exciting to see this training getting such strong support from a whole state network.

*Great work Sharon. You are a real go-getter. This is so remarkable, to have so many people trained in one state all at once. First time ever!!!




We have a second set of Silent Witnesses in Iowa. The original set is coordinated by our passionate Iowa SW coordinator, Joan Kennedy, at the Iowa Coalition in Des Moines. She says that the Witnesses there are still going strong.

The second set of Witnesses for Iowa is located in Toledo, Iowa and is coordinated by Sharon Boulden of the Tama County Health Services. The men in the Adult Corrections program in Tama county were responsible for making and distributing the Silent Witnesses there.

*Thanks all of you in Iowa for the wonderful work you are doing to save women’s lives and heal this country. We deeply appreciate your dedication and service.




Cindy Wolfson filled me in on the myriad of activities from NCJW Chicago.

They have made 30 new plastic figures and they gave their wooden figures to two organizations in IL, the South Suburban Family Shelter and the Coalition in Springfield. They are working with a metal sculpturist who is designing a Silent Witness for a permanent outdoor location. Currently they are looking for the right location to place this Witness. What a great idea, to have an exhibit like this. The first in the country, as far as we know.

They are also working on two other programs, a high school educational program using Northwestern University Students to teach high school ninth graders about healthy relationships, assertiveness and abuse; and a new Court Watch in Skokie.

*Such wonderful ideas and such energy coming out of everywhere. Great work, Cindy and friends. Let us know when you find the outdoor location.




The Jr League of Los Angeles just did a magnificent program in a high school as I described in the last newsletter. The committee has surprised their organizer, Joanne Coghill at the end of her year as their leader by giving her a special Silent Witness tee shirt and contributing donations to Silent Witness in her name. What a wonderful thing to do. The instigator of this was Bonnie Wong, the new committee head for this year. The committee members are Lynn Barat, Patricia Best, Amy Grenier, Kay Kardos, Valerie Real, Shana Rocheleau, Beth Thomas, and Christina Wayne. Thank you all. We love you.



Sharon Sigmon of the Arkansas Coalition tells us that their Witnesses are active too. Recently the Silent Witnesses served as a backdrop for a powerful TV production including a call-in segment. The exhibit is in constant use during October, moving to many locations. The shelters are finding it very easy to use and very moving. They have added three more figures to update their exhibit in the last year.

*Thanks Sharon and friends for all this work. We really appreciate all the effort and energy you give to this endeavor.



An act of mercy: When I called the Jr League of Westchester County (New York City Witnesses) I heard this moving story. The Witnesses were at a prison recently, the Marcy Correctional Facility, for a program. The program people there noticed that their Witnesses were worn and needed to be repaired so, without telling them, the facility voluntarily repaired all their figures. This saved the NY group almost $1600 they figure.

*What an act of mercy. Thanks to the generous people at Marcy.

And this news from Aleene, of the National Council of Jewish Women:

The National Council of Jewish Women Peninsula Section sponsored a Domestic Violence Awareness event in April. The figures were on display at the Hewlett-Woodmere Public for an entire week which ended in a very successful forum.

*Great work, Aleene and Company. It is so exciting to see all the myriads of places these powerful figures are appearing. Way to go.






(If you’re planning something, please let us know)

Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington State


STATES WITH MULTIPLE SILENT WITNESS EXHIBITS: 22 (If there are others please let me know. It is just an oversight!!).

Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming. North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina (in process), South Dakota, Wyoming.



STATES WITH RESULTS PROJECTS SO FAR: Please let me know if there are others.

Data Collection (Supplemental Homicide Reports) 48 States. All except Kansas and Montana.

Other Results Projects (Court Watch, Quincy, Stosny Treatment, DART/Mississippi)

34 States, 68 projects.

Alaska, California (3), Colorado (2), District of Columbia, Florida (5), Hawaii, Idaho (2), Illinois (3), Indiana (5), Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland (4), Massachusetts, Minnesota (8+), Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey (2), New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio (2), Oklahoma (2),South Carolina, Tennessee (2), Texas, Utah, Virginia (3), Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming (5).




I forgot to let you know that you can read the article about SW from the DV Prevention Bulletin on line. The web site for the publisher is www.quinlan.com/dvp It is in the April, 1999 edition of the National Bulletin on Domestic Violence Prevention, Vol 5, No. 4, pgs. 5-7, by Andrew Klein. The information for subscription is on their web site if you’re interested.



WATCH, the orininal Court Watch program in MN has just launched its own web site. The URL is www.mtn.org/~watch Be sure to visit this site and get valuable information on starting and maintaining an effective court watch program.



Dr. Stosny is planning on running a treatment program in Israel this spring. This is such good news. The Cayman Islands has done the training a year or so ago, Venezuela last year and now Israel. This good work is spreading all over the world.



I leave you today with a quote from Abraham Heschel, who I have always revered because of his philosophy, "Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy." Here is another good quote of his.

Let them remember there is meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can—every one—do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all frustrations and all disappointments. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to build a life as if it were a work of art.

*Remember EVERY DEED COUNTS, EVERY WORD HAS POWER. I think of you all as works of art. You are so magnificent.



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