Silent Witness exhibit sheds light on domestic violence

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In correspondence with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Silent Witness Initiative has come to Rowan University, on Oct. 2, 2018.

“Silent Witness is a national initiative to raise awareness about domestic and intimate partner violence in our communities,” said JoAnna Murphy, Ph.D., assistant director of women’s and inclusion programs for the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution. “I knew, from the first one that I attended many years ago, that this program was powerful, meaningful, empowering, inspiring, and important and that no matter what I ended up doing in my career, Silent Witness – in one form or another – would stay with me. So, I brought it with me to Rowan.”

The night featured 14-year-old Donata Forte, a domestic violence survivor, speaking out about her story. She shared the terrifying time she first witnessed her father abuse her mother when she was just 8 years old. The entire room was silent while Forte encouraged people to pick up on the warning signs of intimate partner abuse.

“I refuse to let it influence my life negatively,” said Forte.

Behind Forte stood the silhouettes of 20 victims of intimate partner homicide from the South Jersey area. Throughout the night, statistics such as the fact that every 20 seconds someone in America is being abused, were brought to light.

“Overwhelmingly, women are the victims of intimate partner violence and homicide,” Murphy said. “I want to shed light on this issue by featuring voices of the women who are no longer with us, and whose stories evoke an important emotional reaction for us to stand up to and prevent violence in our communities.”

The purpose of the exhibit is the shed light on the problem that is intimate partner violence. This initiative seeks to educate communities about not only the abuse happening in America but also the abuse in their very own communities. According to the Silent Witness website, it has grown to be an international initiative since its conception in 1990, with projects in all 50 states and 23 countries.

“All I’ve ever wanted is for people to be healthy, happy, and safe,” Murphy said. “It’s my life’s work to create a world where this is possible and I hope, through initiatives such as Silent Witness, we can begin to talk about and address intimate partner violence. My hope is that we come to care for one another, empower victims and survivors to seek help, educate our children —especially our boys— and create the world that myself and so many others desire.”

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