Here’s the link to a great article about a Silent Witness project in Chicago. Powerful words, powerful image…our work continues.
It was recently brought to my attention from a Board member that there’s a wonderful program in Canada that’s working to end domestic violence + sexual assault on college campuses. The posters are so incredibly powerful! Check out this campaign at www.theviolencestopshere.ca . Impressive!
So many silent vigils, so many marches through the streets, so many sessions sitting with parents and holding their hands, so many interviews with television stations. When does it all end?
I know that many people who’ve been involved with the Silent Witness project in their communities have come and gone, sharing their time and energy and creating programs and events to honor the women, men and children in their towns that have been murdered in acts of domestic violence. So much time and effort are put into bringing awareness about our Witnesses stories and working to end the violence. Time, money, energy, patience, tears, healing….
And still, the reason I have stayed connected with the project, is because I know for those families and friends of our Witnesses, it never ends. It changes, it shifts, it moves…but it never ends.
As a survivor of domestic violence, I have found that working with the Silent Witness Initiative has been the most healing work I’ve ever done. Having the opportunity to share time with my community and continuing to work to end the violence has allowed me to heal many of my own wounds, and I hope that along the way I’ve been able to help others in their journeys.
Someday I hope to never have to make another red silhouette. But I know until that day, I’ll continue to sit in the pews of churches, on couches in living rooms, at conference tables in libraries….and hold the hands of my Witness’s families, feed them tissue as they tell me their stories, and share their grief…and their healing.
It’s why I’m still here after 15 years…
Please check out this short video about the RI Silent Witnesses and the University of Rhode Island’s Peer Advocacy Center working together to remember victims of domestic violence. The statewide march on October 18th each year in Providence brings together all 8 Silent Witness projects around Rhode Island – 104 Silent Witness figures that tell the stories of the women, men + children that have been murdered in Rhode Island over the past 25 years. A powerful night of remembrance.
Tell us again
(written by a member of Beaumont Hospital’s Domestic Violence Committee)
Tell us again, as you stand so tall…
In scarlet red, sound the battle call.
Cry from the city, cry from the town,
Cry from the quite countryside round.
Remind us, behind those curtains drawn…
Beyond that perfectly manicured lawn,
When someone comes home, terror arrives…
Those they should love fear for their lives.
Some little ones, coming home from school
Are beaten with words that are brutal and cruel.
Some receive bruises from blow after blow,
Hidden by clothing so others won’t know.
Some children sadly are dreading the night,
Clutching their pillow, they hear parents fight.
Secrets they live with…secrets they fear,
Secrets unknown by everyone near.
Secrets they carry to church, to the store…
Secrets that might be living next door.
For these figure standing…these figures in red,
These secrets tell us, why they re dead.
These figures one wore fine clothes and a smile,
Hand in hand, one bright day, they walked down the aisle,
These figures once may have played in a park,
Their bright, sunny days were then lost to the dark.
These figures were someone’s child, someone’s mother,
Someone’s husband or wife, someone’s sister or brother.
They didn’t deserve to die by violence or strife,
At the hands of one with whom they trusted their life.
Their love made them vulnerable…they hoped for the best,
Many new starts to their story, these figures now tell the rest.
All their dreams…they have vanished; Their hopes…disappeared…
Their walk with us ended in a way they always feared.
Now silent, they stand, as witness for all,
In scarlet, among us, they silently call…
Who will dare to listen, who will dare to hear…
The cries of the wounded who are living in fear?
Who’ll fight for the broken, who will help show the way,
For those in the darkness to find their new day?
In your comfort at home, in your own family’s love…
Remember the hurting ones, God sees from above.
Pray for their safety…for calm, for release,
Continue the cause until all live in peace.
Who would ever have dreamed back in 2003 when the Sheila Shawl project was started in honor of Sheila Wellstone that 10 years later we would have distributed over 6000 shawls and scarves to the families of domestic violence and abuse victims.
Renee Youngberg is the Sheila Shawl National Coordinator and she and other coordinators have done an incredible job of keeping this project alive. Contact her at email@example.com.
Learn more about the project at http://www.silentwitness.net/sub/Sheila_shawl.htm
Thank you messages from those who have received shawls.
I just received the two boxes of shawls that you sent – THANK YOU!!! I feel like I’m swimming in them!
I had a magical day today… I had to take our shelter van to the shop for some service. When I was ready to leave, the cashier looked at my ticket and saw “Women’s Resource Center” and asked me, “Is this for battered women?” I said yes. Then she asked me, “Do you get federal funding that covers this?” I told her that we received some, but we rely mostly on grants and donations. She handed me back the credit card and insisted that she pay for our bill herself, saying that she knew “what its like,” and reached for her purse. She didn’t take no for an answer.
As soon as I got back in the van, I knew I had to go back to the shelter and get her a shawl and bring it right over to her. When I gave it to her she had this look of wonder on her face. It was beautiful. She kept saying, “You didn’t have to do this…”
It was a nice moment.
I wanted to let you know that all of the shawls and scarves have been received and they are beautiful! I’m sorry I did not get back to you earlier, but things have been hectic. Two of the shawls went to adult daughters of a woman that was killed in Williamsburg County. Her murderer was convicted last week and sentenced to 40 years. I am in the process of contacting another woman whose daughter was raped and murdered by a neighbor. The neighbor was supposed to be in prison on a violation of probation and a bond error resulted in his release. This happened in the fall of last year and the mother is having a terrible time – particularly because this would not have occurred if the system had worked! I know that a shawl will bring her a little bit of comfort.
I wanted to get a mailing address for you, because I’d like to make a contribution. As a non-profit my organization is not able to do so, but I would like to help with the cost of the shipping – I hope that you will continue to be able to “do what you do” for a long time!
In searching the web for domestic violence issues I met Nancy Rafi in Rhode Island.
There was a link for a FREE shawl on the website. Not knowing how fabulous this was about to be, I asked her to send my mother one and my sister since Mama is living with her at this time in Raleigh, NC. I went to visit with my younger sister this past Saturday, and was so moved to find that from my interest through emails to Nancy Rafi, that she had three shawls sent (yes, one for me also). This is truly a comfort to sit with my shawl over my shoulders. All of us were very thankful and I will be writing to my knitter since she did a splendid job on the one I picked. Hilda Pizzuti is her name, and I feel the love she put in this while she sat and worked. Just wanted to write you after reading parts of your newsletter today at work. What wonderful things you are doing.
My youngest sister Danette Streater was murdered by her so-called boyfriend in 1998.
We may never find peace without her. She was one of the kindest, and most precious women anyone could know. Now, we don’t get to grow old with her in our lives.
Sorry this is so long. I must go, but thanks.
With a loving heart, Debby
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 aficionados! And it is autobiographical. This
poem will be included in her new book of poems, The Gravity of Flesh.)