The Mountainlair student union, on the campus of West Virginia University, will be filled with silent witnesses to domestic violence from Oct. 2 through Oct. 5. To increase community awareness about the continuing problem of domestic violence, the WVU School of Applied Social Sciences, in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will sponsor”Silent Witness,”an exhibit featuring silhouettes representing 24 women and four children murdered in West Virginia in 1993 as a result of domestic violence.

“For many of us, the real extent of how domestic violence affects families in West Virginia, and throughout the nation, is a fuzzy picture of occasional news reports and second-hand information,”said M. Duane Nellis, Ph.D., dean of the Eberly College.”This exhibit brings sharp focus to this very real societal problem by providing the stories of what happened in just one year to 28 women and children who lived in our state. It is a very powerful statement to the serious damage that is done each year to some of our families.”

The exhibit opens on Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m., with a panel of experts with a wide range of experience and knowledge who will discuss various aspects of domestic violence in the Mountainlair Ballrooms, where the silhouettes will stand before they are moved into the Vandalia Lounge for the remainder of the exhibit.

The panelists include Ruth Kershner, Ed.D., a registered nurse and faculty member in the WVU School of Community Medicine; Deb Strouse, a nationally-certified counselor and health educator; Marjorie McDiarmid, director of the clinical law program in the WVU College of Law and board of directors president of the Morgantown Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center; Melissa Latimer, Ph.D., WVU associate professor of sociology; and Lisa Hall-Schiffbauer, a domestic violence expert from the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center.

The”Silent Witness”national initiative was established by a group of writers and artists in Minnesota who created the first set of 27 life-sized silhouettes in 1990. Over the past 10 years, each of the 50 states have developed similar exhibits. Other goals of the initiative include helping to connect people with local resources for ending the violence in their lives and encouraging community and legislative action to end domestic violence.

The”Silent Witness”exhibit has had a profound effect on many of those who have viewed the freestanding silhouettes. Attorneys general, governors, and other high officials in states throughout the nation are involved with this initiative. Zero domestic violence by the year 2010 is the goal of the Silent Witness National Initiative. The Morgantown exhibit is being coordinated by Jim Nolan, Ph.D., a WVU assistant professor of sociology and a former FBI official.