‘Silent Exhibit’ remembers women killed in acts of domestic violence

Renee Traynor

The Silent Witness Exhibit came to Quinnipiac to pay tribute to the Connecticut women who were murdered in acts of domestic violence. The exhibit, which was displayed at the Albert Schweitzer Institute, hopes to bring domestic violence awareness to the community.

The exhibit consists of 13 life-sized silhouettes painted in blood red and blocked off by crime tape. Eleven of the silhouettes display the names, ages and stories of Connecticut women killed by their husbands or boyfriends in 1996, whose ages range from 25 to 54. A 12th silhouette accounts for all the women whose deaths were not accurately identified as caused by domestic violence, and the 13th silhouette, painted a pale blue, is for all the women who may die in the future unless they are given the appropriate help.

Exhibit coordinator Barbra Moynihan helped bring the powerful exhibit to Quinnipiac as a part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Moynihan, a professor of nursing, has been involved in addressing issues with any form of violence for some time now. She hopes the exhibit will help create an awareness of domestic violence in the Quinnipiac community.

“I hope [the exhibit] created a consciousness of the magnitude of domestic violence,” Moynihan said. “It takes a whole village to direct the problem.”

Although she notes the power of the exhibit, Moynihan also said that “sadly enough” there is a Silent Witness Exhibit in every state. Furthermore, “It is a tragic statement about the society we live in. Anyintimate relationship has the potential of violence.”

Sandra Koorejian, executive director at Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven, said what is most shocking about the exhibit is “the whole notion that somebody who loves someone else can take their life.”

“I hope it raises awareness that this is a problem that happens everywhere,” Koorejian said.

Along with creating domestic violence awareness, the Silent Witness Exhibits across the country hope to bring attention to the four million victims who are battered each year as well as recognize the 2,000 women who are killed each year by a family or household member.

Christine Jackson, family violence counselor for the Coordinating Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the exhibit “gives a voice to the people who have passed away.”

Jackson also hopes that the exhibit helps get people more involved.

“It gives everybody that little incentive to step out and do something,” she said.

Jackson, who concentrates on the effects of domestic violence on children, notes that people can become involved by just recognizing the different developmental stages of a child who has witnessed domestic violence. She explained that it is hard to diagnose a child who has seen trauma because, often times, the symptoms go unrecognized. She said their ways of coping with the trauma range from becoming an overachiever to becoming deviant.

Along with Moynihan, Koorejian, and Jackson, many others from the community showed their support to the exhibit. A reception was held on the evening the exhibit arrived to Quinnipiac. Speakers at the reception included Jackson, Koorejian, Chief Thomas Wydra of the Hamden Police Department, and Maureen Whalen of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Silent Witness Exhibit, which was on display from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25 belongs to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Created in 1997, the exhibit is part of a national movement to promote the end of domestic murders in the United States. by 2000.

Danielle Barbarich, a vice president of fraternity relations and member of Alpha Chi Omega, noted how much the exhibit opened her eyes to the tragedies that occur due to domestic violence.

“I find that this exhibit is one of the most powerful things that I have ever experienced. It hit me extremely hard reading personal stories of women who have died due to domestic violence,” she said.