The Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) in Helena is hosting the Silent Witness Exhibit until Oct. 25.
Silent Witness features 95 red wooden silhouettes of women, each with a unique gold shield memorializing a woman killed as a result of domestic violence. Children who died with their mothers are also listed.
MLEA Domestic Violence Program Manager Natale Adorni says the exhibit is a powerful tool for educating new law enforcement.
“It’s a very emotional exhibit for us because it helps us connect our law enforcement officers with the idea that there are victims behind the stories that are represented by each silhouette,” said Adorni.
Some of the academy staff worked on cases represented in the exhibit, and a family member of a current cadet is represented. Victims of domestic violence are not isolated incidents. It can affect anyone, no matter their race, gender or economic situation.
“Each silhouette regrettably ended in tragedy. What we teach our law enforcement officers is there are components that are commonalities in these women,” said Adorni.
“We know the highest lethality period is when the woman to leave the relationship because domestic violence is about power and control.”
Since 2000, there have been 175 intimate partner homicides due to partner violence in Montana. Firearms are the most frequently used weapon in those homicides and 72% of all murder-suicides in the state involved a domestic partner.
“We need to as a community-- not just as law enforcement-- combat this issue,” said Adorni.
The public can view the exhibit from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily at the MLEA, which is located at 2260 Sierra Road in Helena.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.