Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A History Woven in Her Shawl

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A History Woven in Her Shawl

Article excerpt

It is the terrible truth that women's and children's bodies disproportionately bear the brunt of men's aggression and greed, often suffering at the hands of conquering enemy outsiders but not always. Sometimes they fear the men who love or once loved them. I cannot remove the haunted look from the eyes of gang-raped women and orphaned children I see in photos from Bosnia or Iraq or Darfur or wherever the latest atrocity is taking place. But I can report success stories like the work of Silent Witness, project created by women and artist volunteers in 1990 in Minneapolis to raise awareness of domestic homicide victims and to advocate for better accounting of instances of domestic violence and for its prevention.

The first "silent witnesses" were 27 red, life-sized figures representing each Minnesota woman murdered that year by a man she knew, plus one for the anonymous unsolved cases. Today, because of the tireless efforts of still volunteer-run Silent Witness, in some states and cities court monitoring and prevention and treatment programs are effectively reducing the numbers of domestic violence homicides as well as recidivism. Now with a presence in every state in the United States and 20 other countries, the Silent Witness National Initiative (www.silentwit hess.net) wants to reduce domestic murders to zero by 2010.

Silent Witness recently held a noteworthy fundraising event: the Sheila Shawl Extravaganza. Named for the late Sheila Wellstone, long an advocate for the victims of domestic violence, it featured 75 exquisite handmade shawls commissioned by benefactors and created by amateur and professional knitters and fiber artists. Many of the shawls were offered at silent and live auction at the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis June 16. Others sold on e-Bay. Proceeds benefited Silent Witness and the Sheila Wellstone Fellowship at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Sheila and her husband, U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, died in a plane crash nearly two years ago.

Terry Ruttger of Minneapolis is unlike the women of Sudan or Bosnia or inner city U.S.A., victims not only of violence but of poverty, racism or ethnocentrism. Yet Terry shares with them the cumulative debasing effects of years of being struck down emotionally and verbally. Terry's ex-husband rarely hit her until divorce proceedings began, but his rage and denigrating behavior and words made her life miserable. He threw plates of food on the kitchen floor if he didn't like the dinner she had prepared. He laughed at her dreams of earning a master's degree in theology because he didn't see the earning potential. He once removed their two children from day care without Terry's permission; she didn't know their whereabouts until 11 p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.