What is a Silent Witness?
Welcome to the Genesis House Silent Witness virtual exhibit. Each of the silhouettes below represent a real victim of domestic violence killed in Lorain County from 1989- Present and their story. These are real people who lived, worked and raised their children in Lorain County who were brutally murdered by a person close to them who supposedly loved them.
On average, 20 people experience intimate partner violence every minute in the U.S. and fatality rates within domestic violence are staggering. *Statistically, almost one out of five or 16.3% of murder victims in the U.S. were killed by an intimate partner; women account for two out of three murder victims killed by an intimate partner.
Through this exhibit Genesis House is committed to break the silence that often goes with domestic violence and provide awareness in the community of our services to victims of domestic violence and that there is help out there for those living in violent or abusive situations.
The physical version of this exhibit consist of life size silhouettes that can be displayed at any church, school, business, community group or city building that has ample space. For more information about hosting a Silent Witness Exhibit, contact Genesis House for more information.
Note: Some of our silent witnesses have photos attached. Hover over the silhouette to reveal. This feature is not supported in mobile view.
*Source: Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008. Nov., 2011. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The Silent Witness Exhibit can be very difficult to experience. These are people from your community, they went to your schools, they lived in your neighborhoods. They could be your parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, friend or even you.
The experience can be upsetting. It's supposed to elicit a reaction from those who see it. The goal is to break the silence, bring awareness of this type of violence and hopefully to encourage and inspire folks to create change. We want you to get motivated to get involved with the movement to end domestic violence.
In 1990, a group of women, upset about the growing number of women in Minnesota being murdered by their partners or acquaintances, joined together with several other womens 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.
After much brainstorming, they 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, current or ex-partner. A twenty-seventh figure was added to represent those unaccounted women whose murders went unsolved or where erroneously ruled accidental. The organizers called the figures the Silent Witnesses.
On February 18, 1991, more than 500 women met at a church across the street from the Minnesota State Capitol to showcase with the newly-constructed Witnesses lined up at the front of the sanctuary. The women formed a silent procession escorting the figures in single file across the street, up the steps, and into the State Capitol Rotunda for public viewing as statements about the tragedy of how their lives ended.
The sheer volume of space the figures occupied spoke of their power... and the loss. The Silent Witness Exhibit was officially launched. A press conference highlighted the organizations purpose and goals for eliminating domestic violence murders.
Inspired by the impact of the Exhibit on many lives, a few of the project supporters came together with Janet Hagberg and Jane Zeller in 1994 with the determination to create a larger goal, namely the formation of a national initiative dedicated to the elimination of domestic murders. It was then that a five part process model evolved starting with the creation of Silent Witnesses Exhibits in all 50 states.
Within one year, as of September 1995, a total of 800 Silent Witnesses had been created representing women who were killed as a result of domestic violence in seventeen states. By February of 1996 twenty-four states were involved. And in 1997 all fifty states had joined the initiative.