The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is hosting the Silent Witness Exhibit through Friday, October 25 in Helena; it is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day.
Silent Witness features 95 red wooden silhouettes of women, each with a unique gold shield memorializing a woman killed as a result of domestic violence. Children who died with their mothers are also listed.
Natale Adorni, MLEA Domestic Violence Program Manager, said the exhibit is a powerful tool for educating new law enforcement.
“It’s a very emotional exhibit for us because it helps us connect our law enforcement officers with the idea that there are victims behind the stories that are represented by each silhouette,” said Adorni.
Some of the academy staff worked on cases represented in the exhibit, and a family member of a current cadet is represented.
Victims of domestic violence are not isolated incidents.
It can affect anyone, no matter their race, gender or economic situation.
“Each silhouette regrettably ended in tragedy. What we teach our law enforcement officers is there are components that are commonalities in these women,” said Adorni. “We know the highest lethality period is when the woman tries to leave the relationship because domestic violence is about power and control.”
Since 2000, there have been 175 intimate partner homicides due to partner violence in Montana.
Firearms are the most frequently used weapon in those homicides and 72 percent of all murder-suicides in the state involved a domestic partner.
“We need to as a community-- not just as law enforcement-- combat this issue,” said Adorni.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.