Domestic Violence Awareness: The Silent Witness Project

  • Published
  • By Lisa Burner
  • 96th Medical Operations Squadron
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The "purple flyers" at the base gates and at the 7th Special Forces Group compound are Eglin's version of the Silent Witness Project which honors those who suffered as a result of domestic violence.

How the initiative began

In 1990, an ad hoc group of women artists and writers, upset about the growing number of women in Minnesota who were murdered by a partner or acquaintance, collaborated with other women's organizations to form Arts Action against Domestic Violence. They felt a strong urge to do something that spoke out against the escalating domestic violence, as well as commemorate the 26 women who lost their lives that year as a result of domestic violence.

After brainstorming, they decided to create 26 free-standing, life-sized 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 spouse, partner, or acquaintance. A 27th figure was added to represent the unaccounted women whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental. The organizers called the figures the Silent Witnesses.

The debut

On February 18, 1991, more than 500 women gathered at a church across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol. They lined the front of the sanctuary with the newly-constructed silent witnesses and formed a silent procession. The women then escorted 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 occupied by the figures spoke of their power... and the loss. This was the official launch of the Silent Witness Exhibit.

If you or someone you know needs information or help please contact the Family Advocacy Program at 883-8616.