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Our Approach

We know that domestic violence is historically a difficult issue to work on. We are grateful to all those who have worked so long and hard to build the support of communities all over the world to bring this issue into the public arena so that through our shared passion we can work together find solutions to the generational patterns of abuse and violence.

Our approach to reducing and eliminating domestic violence is a micro approach; that is to target specific areas in which we can show results in behavior changes, court changes, reduced murder rates or reduced violence. To accomplish this we have done a nationwide search for projects that have been successful in specific arenas (courts, churches, treatment groups, corporations). The outcomes of these programs inform us that there is hope for moving toward the goal of 0 domestic murders by 2020.

We are excited to report that we have found several projects from around the country which are successful in reducing or eliminating domestic violence. We are now in the process of informing the publich about these successful projectsnationwide.

Nationwide Success
Maps of States

The homicide rates are falling in several cities and states; for example, in Minnesota the domestic violence homicide rate has gone from 27 in 1990 to 6 in 1996. Quincy, MA, has had one domestic violence homicide in 12 years and Seattle and San Diego are both down from more than 30 to 4 or fewer. Several other cities are also experiencing similar trends.

The courts are responding well to the court watch programs around the country. We are becoming colleagues with judges who are as interested as we are in helping the system work better for survivors and in finding effective ways to work with perpetrators.

Independent research on the Stosny Treatment program for perpetrators shows that it is working even more successfully than Dr. Stosny's original research. It has an 87% success rate in eliminating battering behavior in court ordered males with a 78% reduction in verbal violence. All of this with only a 15% drop out rate (average drop rates are 50%).

The DART Domestic Abuse Response Team is a nation-wide multi-disciplinary program comprised of a team of people in which a law enforcement officer is paired with a highly trained advocate to handle and respond to domestic violence calls.  This is a system-based model that joins the efforts of criminal justice, social services and community based agencies.   

The Big Picture

In the twenty-two years that the national organization has been in existence we have seen the following results: recruited 50 other states and 35 countriesto join our initiative by making identical exhibits, initiated a program that has a proven record of eliminating domestic murders, researched several other violence reduction programs, developed and produced ten products, received two local and two national awards, completed a strategic plan and held the first March to End the Silence About Domestic Violence march/conference in Washington, D.C. in on October 17, 1997. Senator Paul and Sheila Wellstone brought the Witnesses to Washington to stand in the Russell Senate Office building during legislative hearings on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Many Senators viewed the Witnesses and talked about how deeply touched they were by the exhibit. The Sheila Shawl project created after the untimely deaths of Sheila and Paul Wellstone donated over 6000 Sheila Shawls to the family members of murdered victims.

Who's Involved

Thousands of citizens from more than 30 different organizations are now involved with the Silent Witness National Initiative. The list includes attorneys general, governors and many legislators. The organizations range from two individual homemakers in New Hampshire and Maine to The Junior League, The National Council of Jewish Women, business & professional women, NOW, AAGW, Anti-Violence Coalitions, battered women's shelters, artists, nurses, police departments, The YWCA, Men Against Violence Against Women, family members, churches, corporations and more. At our first steering committee meeting in 1996, nineteen people from twelve states paid their own way to Chicago to join us in planning this national effort.

The State's Efforts

Each state introduced their Exhibit to the public through an event that was viewed by thousands of people through broad print and television coverage. In North Carolina the Governor hosted a dinner for the debut. In Michigan family members escorted the figures to the state capitol. In New York, the Mayor and both Senators attended the opening at Grand Central Station. The Navajo Nation opened their exhibit at a Tribal Memorial Ceremony. Several states have gone further than their debuts. They have worked on legislation that affects domestic violence, or have piloted successful programs that reduce violence.

The March in Washington

Representatives from all 50 states met in Washington, D.C. in October of 1997 for a March to End the Silence About Domestic Violence, to honor the murdered women and to protest domestic violence in America. At that time we  showcased successful programs at a Take Peace Home Conference and sponsored a healing vigil at the Capital Reflecting Pool. We anticipated that all 50 states would work on successful preventative projects to reduce domestic violence when returning from the conference.  Twenty-two years later the momentum is continuing to build. We are determined to impact the healing of this nation and partner with the 35 countries abroad to bring awareness and healing to their communities.

Results Of The Exhibit in Minnesota

Since the debut of the Silent Witness Exhibit, the traveling memorial has been displayed in more than 500 locations in Minnesota, including art galleries, museums, courthouses, city halls, shopping malls, universities, high schools, college campus', universities,women's shelters and churches, touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Sheila Wellstone (our Senator's wife) was a long time supporter of ours and frequently spook at events which feature the Witnesses until her untimely death in a plane crash in Minnesota on October 25, 2002.

As a direct result of our involvement nationally, Minneapolis became the first large city to replicate all 5 of the major results projects; Quincy, Stosny Treatment, DART, data collection and Court Watch. 

Two Fortune 100 Corporations have agreed to be a corporate partner in this initiative, both to help Silent Witness as well as influence the larger community through policy and education. The Junior League of St. Paul has become a major force in the National Initiative and the Washington events.

Perhaps the most important result of the Silent Witness Exhibit is the extent to which it has touched and often changed the lives of individuals in our country. Comments and several poignant letters were received from people who have been deeply affected by the project. A furnace cleaner at the home of one of the organizers noticed the information on the exhibit in her basement. He said he had seen the exhibit on television, that it had touched him, and encouraged him to say things to other men about caring for women. A woman wrote a ten page letter telling how deeply moved she was by the exhibit.

"Your Silent Witness creation has had a great affect on opening me to surrendering my anonymity as a formerly battered woman...it was the springboard, the catalyst for my going public with my own truth."

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