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Silent Witness tells of Domestic Violence tragedies

By Linda Griffith

It’s hard not to notice the life-size red wooden cut-outs standing to attention throughout the library on CPCC’s Central Campus. The color, the shapely figure, the oddity of coming face to face with a wooden body, are something rather difficult to ignore amongst the bookshelves and service desks, and yet I wonder how many of us have dome just that – glanced at them and walked on without stopping to find out what their purpose is.

In every case they have a name and a very sad story that has ended tragically at the hands of domestic violence. They are here silent and red and alarming to call our attention to October being Domestic Violence month. To make us stop and pay attention to the biggest single cause of death amongst women in America today.

These women can no longer speak for themselves, and even when they could it seemed no-one was listening and now they have a red wooden figure to speak for them and tell their stories.

Central Campus has six of these ladies which will be rotated throughout all the campuses. In North Carolina there are 60 in total, each one with a written page detailing the age, name and life of a victim.

They are referred to as Silent Witnesses - aptly named. Unlike other leading causes of death, cancer, heart disease, and aids, most of the victims have suffered in silence.

October is the month to speak out and be aware of the far reaching affects of Domestic Violence and speak out, before another red wooden figure is needed.
In Minnesota in 1990 a group of artists and writers decided to do just that. Horrified by the number of deaths they new about as the result of domestic violence they joined together with a variety of women’s organizations and came up with the idea of these silent witnesses.

Originally there were 26 and a 27th to represent the remaining victims whose death might have been ruled accidental.

In 1994, fueled by the reception and attention their red women had achieved they looked towards a national initiative. Their goal was to have silent witnesses in all 50 states. To date 46 have signed on.

The field of domestic abuse is overwhelmingly complicated as it can take so many forms. Not least of which is violent. However, psychological abuse can be just as paralyzing and far more difficult to detect.
The Feminist Majority Foundation states that “one in every four American women will experience violence by an intimate partner sometime during her lifetime.”

Clearly this is a plague hovering just below the surface of many of our lives. With statistics this high, many of us know someone who is being abused on one level or another.

The most important thing we can do is empower someone who is in an abusive relationship with the tools to get out of it safely.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 where counselors are available 24 hours a day with advisors in both English and Spanish, complete discretion is assured. Their lines are ALWAYS open.

Closer to home there is the Family Resource Center located in Overcash 254 on Central Campus who can refer you to more resources and the Counseling Centers at each CPCC campus..

Do you know anyone who might be suffering?
Perhaps they don’t know it themselves. Perhaps they are too frightened to seek help. Perhaps they might end up the story on a silent witness. Perhaps they might get help.
Help is available for those who need it. The real danger is keeping silent.