In 1990, an ad hoc group of women artists and writers, upset about the growing number of women in Minnesota being murdered by their partners or acquaintances, joined together with several other women's organizations to form Arts Action Against Domestic Violence. They felt an urgency to do something that would speak out against the escalating domestic violence in their state, something that would commemorate the lives of the 26 women whose lives had been lost in 1990 as a result of domestic violence. After much brainstorming, they decided to create 26 free-standing, life-sized red wooden figures, each one bearing the name of a woman who once lived, worked, had neighbors, friends, family, children—whose life ended violently at the hands of a husband, ex-husband, partner, or acquaintance. A twenty-seventh figure was added to represent those uncounted women whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental. The organizers called the figures the Silent Witnesses.
The goal of the Silent Witness National Initiative became 0 by 2010, zero domestic murders by the year 2010. The hope was born, the healing was already beginning to happen at the moment. Now all the states are involved as well as twenty other countries, successful domestic violence reduction projects have been discovered, the march and conference successfully accomplished. The original twenty-seven women (witnesses) whose murders started the whole initiative, have prevailed. Their stories have been heard across the country and they are calling for the healing to continue until there are no more domestic murders and no more domestic violence.