The Silent Witness National Initiative seeks to promote peace, healing and responsibility in adult relationships. The Initiative’s goal is to reach zero domestic murders by 2010 through successful community-based domestic violence reduction efforts.
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How The Initiative Began
In 1990, a group of women artists and writers, alarmed by the growing number of women in Minnesota being murdered by their partners or acquaintances, joined together with several other women’s organizations to form Arts Action Against Domestic Violence.
They felt an urgency to do something that would speak out against the escalating domestic violence in their state, something that would commemorate the lives of the 26 women whose lives had been lost in 1990 as a result of domestic violence. Tthey decided to create 26 free-standing, life-sized red wooden figures, each one bearing the name of a woman who once lived, worked, had neighbors, friends, family, children–whose life ended violently at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner, or acquaintance. A twenty-seventh figure was added to represent those uncounted women whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental. The organizers called the figures the Silent Witnesses. Names of the 26 women can be accessed on the Silent Witness National Initiative WebSite.
On February 18, 1991, more than 500 women met at a church across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol with the newly-constructed Witnesses. The women formed a silent procession escorting the figures single file across the street, up the steps, and into the State Capitol Rotunda for public statements and a press conference. The sheer volume of space the figures occupied spoke of their power and the loss. The Silent Witness Exhibit was officially launched.
The National Initiative
1994 saw the formation of a national initiative dedicated to the elimination of domestic murder, starting with the creation of Silent Witness exhibits in communities across the country. Within one year a total of 800 Silent Witnesses had been created to represent women who were killed as a result of domestic violence in seventeen states. By October 1997, exhibits had been established in all 50 states.
To find our how you can become involved, please contact:
The Silent Witness National Initiative
20 Second St., Suite 1101
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Telephone (612) 377-6629
Fax (612) 374-3956
Information from the Silent Witness National Initiative web site