A collection of 50 cut-out silhouettes will hold silent vigil at West Virginia University next week, their poignant presence eloquently speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.

TheSilent Witnessexhibit opens at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in the Mountainlair Ballrooms on the Downtown Campus, and is intended to draw attention to the tragedy of domestic violence.

Each of the life-size, wooden silhouettes represents a woman, man or child murdered by a family member or partner in West Virginia from 1999-2001.

The opening includes a program featuring discussions from experts, live music and more to bring home the fear, pain and loss felt by the families those silhouettes represent.

After the opening in the Ballrooms, the exhibit will move to the Mountainlairs Vandalia Lounge, where it will remain on display Oct. 10-13.

The programs presenters:

  • Daleen Berry, an award-winning journalist and author of the memoir,Sisters of Silence,which chronicles the years she spent as a victim of domestic abuse;
  • Lisa Hall-Schiffbauer, a local domestic violence counselor and prevention educator;
  • Melissa Latimer, chair of the Division of Sociology and Anthropology;
  • Joyce Cook, a protective services specialist with the West Virginia Coalition against Domestic Violence; and
  • Ruth Kersher, a professor in the Department of Community Medicine and well-known advocate for victims of domestic violence.

While the evening is free to the public, licensed social workers attending from across West Virginia may pay a $20 registration fee at the door to earn continuing education hours through WVU .

Members of the Minnesota Arts Action against Domestic Violence and the Minnesota Womens Consortium developed the first Silent Witness exhibit in 1990. By 1997, all 50 states were holding Silent Witness events.

WVU s event is sponsored by The School of Applied Social Sciences in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; the WVU Center for Womens Studies; the Junior League of Fairmont; and WVU s National Center for Excellence in Womens Health.

Info: Leslie Tower, Division of Social Work, letower@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-3501, ext. 3126.