Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative
Silent Witness Ceremony
Join us in Gillette on Friday, October 6 to honor Wyoming Silent Witnesses.
Hosted by Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation.
The mission of the Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative is to promote peace, healing and responsibility in intimate relationships in order to eliminate domestic violence.
Since 1985, an estimated seventy-seven Wyoming women, seven men, four boys and one girl have been murdered as a result of domestic violence. In 1994 alone, eight women died at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, or acquaintance. Three additional children and seven males, including brothers, were also killed during these same domestic violence incidents.
Because all of us have a responsibility to act to end these senseless deaths, Wyoming joined other states in a national initiative committed to raising the level of awareness about domestic violence.
On February 28, 1997, Wyoming unveiled an exhibit as the first phase of the Silent Witness Initiative at a special ceremony in the State Capitol. The exhibit consisted of 38 red life-size wood silhouettes representing the women and children murdered as a result of domestic violence. Brandy Jo Imhoff’s small silhouette speaks for children murdered in domestic violence situations. Each adult silhouette bears a shield with the name of the murdered woman, age at time of death, and the circumstances of her death. To represent the associated victims, a male silhouette and an additional child silhouette were added to the exhibit in 2001.
Former Wyoming Attorney General William U. Hill and First Lady Sherri Geringer sponsored Wyoming’s involvement in the Initiative. The Department of Corrections Director, Judy Uphoff, enthusiastically supported creation of the exhibit with help from inmates at the Women’s Prison in Lusk and inmates from the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton. Many individuals and nonprofit groups have and continue to work on the initiative and the Wyoming Silent Witness Committee promotes domestic violence awareness year-round.
The exhibit was displayed in the Herschler Gallery of the Capitol until it began its journey around the State of Wyoming to “bear witness” to the serious problem of domestic violence in the state.
In October of 1997, the exhibit traveled to Washington, D.C. to appear with the Witness representatives of all states to demonstrate for increased awareness, stricter enforcement of laws, and assistance in fighting the problem of domestic violence nationwide.
On October 18, 1998, state and local representatives gathered at the Capitol in Cheyenne, for a “March to End the Silence.” A caravan of vehicles approached the city from opposite sides of the state coming together to “call for the healing of domestic violence in our cities, state, and country.” Former State Senator John Perry from Buffalo, who co-sponsored Wyoming’s Victims Bill of Rights, was the keynote speaker. Four new silhouettes were added to the exhibit. The event was held in conjunction with marches across the United States.