Silent Witnesses

  • Published
  • By Lisa Burner
  • Family Advocacy Outreach manager
The purple flyers around the base this month aren’t a Halloween prank, but rather draw attention to a serious issue: domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and the purple flyers represent Eglin’s participation in the Silent Witness project. 

Since 2009, Eglin participated in the Silent Witness project as a way to show solidarity and concern for the continued problem of domestic violence.

Team Eglin’s Family Advocacy program received 261 referrals for family maltreatment.  In 2016, there were more than 1,609 incidents of domestic violence and eight domestic violence-related deaths in Okaloosa County, the highest reported in over 10 years.  Unfortunately, each year the number grows and more lives are forever changed. 

In 1990, a group of women artists and writers, upset about 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.  They wanted something that would commemorate the 26 women whose lives had been lost as a result of domestic violence.

They decided to create 26 free-standing, life-sized wooden figures, bearing the name of a woman, who worked, had neighbors, friends, family and children whose life ended violently at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner or acquaintance. A 27th 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.

On Feb. 18, 1991, more than 500 women met at a church across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol with the newly-constructed “witnesses” lined up at the front of the sanctuary. 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.

Today, all 50 states and 20 countries are involved in the Silent Witness project.  The stories of the original 27 women (witnesses) whose murders started the initiative, have been heard across the country.  These stories are calling for the healing to continue until there are no more domestic murders and no more domestic violence. 

Team Eglin continues to display the purple flyers each October to bring awareness to this important issue.  While it is imperative we strive to assist those who are living in violent relationships, we must also focus on prevention efforts to continue to drive those numbers down.

For more information on available classes and programs, contact the Family Advocacy program at 883-8616, or visit the Airman & Family Readiness Center link.