Albany County SAFE Project will host its Silent Witness Candlelight Vigil at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Alice Hardie Stevens Center.
“SAFE has been holding a candlelight vigil since as long as I can remember,” SAFE Project Executive Director, Becca Fisher said. “Wyoming’s Silent Witness Initiative began in 1997 when there was an exhibition that revealed the silent witnesses.”
The Silent Witness National Initiative was started in 1990 in Minnesota when a group of artists became upset with the number of women who were being killed by their intimate partners, Fisher said. The artists then created red silhouettes of women in honor of those who had been murdered by their partners or who had been victims of domestic violence.
In addition to the candlelight vigil on Tuesday, University of Wyoming Police Chief Mike Samp will participate in the event as the keynote speaker and a local musician will play bagpipes.
Red, life-size silhouettes also will be displayed in honor of the three women who have been killed in Albany County by their domestic partners since 1994. There also will be an opportunity for attendees to share their stories of domestic violence.
The event will be held because of the number of people who have been affected by domestic violence in Albany County and nationally.
“Nationally, about one in four women and one in seven men will face domestic violence in their lifetime,” Fisher said. “In Albany County in 2011 we had about 156 new victims who reported domestic violence in addition to the 228 on-going victims that SAFE works with.”
Also in 2011, the Laramie Police Department, Albany County Sheriff’s Department, and the UW Police Department had more than 430 cases reported. However, Fisher said that not all cases are reported.
“We know that it is a crime that goes unreported at a higher rate than others because the victims are in a relationship with the person,” Fisher said. “There’s usually a fear of retaliation or feelings of guilt if the person is thrown in jail. There can also be a fear of not being able to provide for themselves or for their children if that person is the primary financial supporter.”
The Albany County SAFE Project aids victims of domestic violence by providing a 24-hour hotline, childcare, transportation and outreach events such as the candlelight vigil.
Because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the SAFE Project has been trying to increase people’s knowledge of it by increasing media engagement and putting flyers on pizza boxes with domestic violence facts. Outreach events are hosted year round.