Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Life-sized silhouettes represent lives

 

October 18, 2017



Each silhouette represents a life.

One that has been lost to domestic violence.

Sweetwater County has 11 of those silhouettes, nine woman and two children. These silhouettes are usually put out each October for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Aimee Gatzke, Director for the Center for Families and Children, said unlike years past, they were unable to put the silhouettes out in public like they had originally planned, yet she wanted to remind people they are still there.

Gatzke said they either couldn’t get in touch with the right people or they couldn’t get people to commit to bringing the silhouettes into a safe place at night.

“Our big concern is they might get vandalized,” Gatzke said. “It’s hard letting go of them because they’re so important.”

However, they decided the silhouettes still needed to be displayed so they put them out in front of their suite, which is located at 2620 Commercial Way in Rock Springs. To see them, one must walk into the building and downstairs.

The silhouette program itself actually started as a national program, with each state then adopting their own program. Wyoming started its program in 1997. The state determines who has silhouettes made based on whether or not the crime was considered a domestic-violence related crime, Gatzke said.

In fact, Sweetwater County had one male victim who died with his sister, who was the victim of domestic violence. The state decided he didn’t meet the requirements for the silhouette, however they put his information on his sister’s shield.

After a silhouette has been used for 10 years, the state retires it. The shield located on the front of the silhouette is then given to the family of the victim.

Gatzke recalled when she had given a survivor the shield. She remembered the woman telling her that was the only thing she would have that was her mother’s. To Gatzke, that was sad.

“Im a way it makes us feel good that we were able to give her something to remember her by,” Gatzke said.

The silhouettes are a way to remind people of those who died because of domestic violence. She said it’s important for the community to see those and remember that these things do happen in Sweetwater County.

Since 1985, statewide there have been silhouettes for 71 women, seven men, four boys and one girl.

Purple Bracelets

Another change this year, was the passing out of purple bracelets. The bracelets replaced the purple ribbons that used to be handed out.

“We wanted to kind of update everything,” Gatzke said.

She said they felt people were more likely to wear the bracelets than ribbons because the pins used to keep the ribbon on would sometimes leave a hole in the fabric or even tear it.

On the bracelet it says “I’m a warrior,” and on the inside of the bracelet is the CFC’s hotline number 307-352-1030.

She said she wanted to encourage people to report possible domestic violence cases.

“I always tell people to speak up even if they want to remain anonymous,” Gatzke said.

One can never know how the domestic violence has escalated or if it’s close to the breaking point. She said a lot of times people won’t report domestic violence because they don’t want to be a noisy neighbor, however she wants them to know that they may save a life if it’s reported.

Gatzke said they are especially concerned when kids are involved.

“Kids don’t deserve to grow up in that environment,” she said.

 

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