Women’s Center hosts Silent Witness memorial | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Women’s Center hosts Silent Witness memorial

Charles Sizemore
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Jennifer Kline, left, and Lisa Michele Utzig stand next to some of the silhouettes that are part of the Lake Tahoe Women's Center first annual Silent Witness.

October is a big month for the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center. The center will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Oct. 28 with a sunset gala at Edgewood Tahoe golf course. October also marks Domestic Violence Awareness month, and the Women’s Center plans to unveil its first annual Silent Witness exhibit, which will be on display all month long at the center at 2941 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

And a memorial service will be held at the center tonight at 6 p.m. in English, and Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Spanish.

The exhibit consists of 10 “silhouettes” — red wooden statues — representing local women who have been murdered by a domestic partner. The silhouettes will be displayed outside the center, each one bearing the name and story of the victim.

Silent Witness National Initiative is a movement to inform people of the dangers of domestic violence and eliminate domestic murders. It was started in 1990 by a group of women in Minnesota who wanted to give a voice to the growing number of women being killed by their spouse, boyfriend, ex-husband, partner or acquaintance, according to the Silent Witness Web site.

The group decided upon the life-sized, free-standing red wooden figure to be the symbol of the movement, which has grown into a national movement with exhibits in all 50 states.

The materials for the Tahoe exhibit were donated by Meek’s Building Center, and the silhouettes were built by Jennifer Kline, the court advocate for the Women’s Center, and her husband, Rick.

The Tahoe exhibit will feature 10 silhouettes; however the Women’s Center wants to share as many stories as possible, and encourages anyone with a story to call and share.

“We don’t want to forget anybody,” said Leanne Wagoner, director of the Women’s Center.

Lisa Michele Utzig has been busy promoting the event, in hopes of increasing local awareness of domestic violence.

“We’ve been on the radio, and on television, and putting out lots of fliers,” Utzig said.

After the exhibit ends, the Women’s Center hopes to still use the silhouettes as a tool in educating the public about domestic violence, at trainings and perhaps putting one in the lobby of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

“It’s important for people to know that domestic violence happens here,” Wagoner said. “It effects everybody.”

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