In only one year, nine new names were added to the Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project unveiling.
Nine new victims of domestic violence turned deadly.
“There’s no way you can look at these figures and say it doesn’t happen here,” said Mary Krueger, director of the Women’s Center at Bowling Green State University, which puts on the annual memorial event.
In all, 69 victims of domestic violence will be remembered today at the unveiling, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg.
Each victim will be represented by a body silhouette; the “retired” plaques of more people will also be on display.
A plaque is retired after it has been on a silhouette for 10 years.
“Unfortunately there’s always another case we can replace it with,” Ms. Krueger said.
At today’s remembrance, the keynote address will be given by Julia Strange, 32, a Bowling Green native who works for the U.S. Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and the Collective Action for Safe Space in Washington.
“She’s like this big shot, but she started here,” Ms. Krueger said of Ms. Strange. “It’s particularly gratifying to see a student just go off in the world. I mean, she’s living her passion. She’s doing work that’s really meaningful to her. That’s pretty exciting.”
It wasn’t until the final semester of her senior year at BGSU that Ms. Strange had an internship with the on-campus Women’s Center and she was exposed to the Silent Witness Project.
Part of her job was to sand and paint the silhouettes, but to also research the victims who would be honored that year.
“It was just very powerful and brought it home and … really helped me start paying attention to the issue,” Ms. Strange said.
Ms. Strange graduated from BGSU in 2003 with a degree in English literature and a minor in women’s studies.
After graduation, she spent two years with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan where Ms. Strange said she saw domestic violence against women and, when she returned home, saw the same things happening in Bowling Green.
“It wasn’t something happening half way around the world,” she aid. “I saw it in the town I grew up in.”
One critical component of Monday’s event is humanizing the victims — not just letting them represent statistics, Ms. Krueger said.
Each victim who is remembered has a background — as much as volunteers were able to find or families were willing to tell.
Some families say a lot, some don’t say much.
Some even sent photos.
“That’s the part that breaks me,” said Ms. Krueger, who has worked with domestic violence issues for 30 years. “I’ve got a pretty thick skin, but that’s what gets me.”
Ms. Krueger said the event usually draws about 300 people — half are family members of victims.
“The grief and the pain in that room is so bottomless, and it’s so preventable,” Ms. Krueger said. “This doesn’t have to happen like this.”
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.