An Empty Place at the Table
In 2002, as New Hope for Women's community educators began to prepare material and presentations to highlight October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, they also felt a need to remember those victims who were murdered by their partners in acts of domestic violence homicide. Inspired by a memorial project called An Empty Place at the Table, which originated in Pennsylvania, the advocates began to work with families who had lost loved ones to create a display that would honor victims in our own service area.
The memorial consists of a dining table surrounded by empty chairs, a powerful reminder that the tragic deaths left an empty place not only in the lives of their families, but in the community as well. The table is set with tableware donated by the families of Kimberly Sue Palmer of Camden, Candace Butler originally of Bristol, Lori Trahan Cantwell of Rockport, Brenda Gray-Knost of Swanville, and Ava Gushee of Rockland. A sixth place honors the Unnamed, all those who remain unknown to us but not forgotten.
The donated items either belonged to the victims or were selected to reflect and celebrate their personalities, passions and dreams. The intent of the exhibit is to point out that those whose lives were taken in such a tragic and senseless way were more than statistics to be tallied at the end of the year. They were parents, children, neighbors, friends and valued members of the community. Their deaths have left us with many empty places at the table.
This powerful memorial has been displayed in Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties each year since its creation, in libraries, churches, museums and other quiet, contemplative indoor settings. New Hope for Women welcomes invitations to host the Table. If you are interested in honoring the lives of these women by sponsoring An Empty Place at the Table at your location, please contact us for more information.
Additions to the Table are always welcome. If you would like to honor a family member who was killed in an act of domestic violence homicide, please contact us for more information.