• LifeStyles of Maryland

A Voice for Domestic Violence Victims

From left, Fern Brown, Sandy Washington and Rosemary Raiman pose with the Silent Witnesses displays raising awareness of domestic violence.
From left, Fern Brown, Sandy Washington and Rosemary Raiman pose with the Silent Witnesses displays.

The effects of the pandemic have stretched far beyond those infected with the coronavirus. Social distancing and gathering restrictions affect the economy, creating stresses that trickle down into our homes where more problems await.

Rosemary Raiman knows that it’s happening.

“Money is tight, jobs have been lost,” she said. “Thank God for LifeStyles because people need help. When that anger and those frustrations mount up, then we have a domestic violence situation.”

A member of the LifeStyles Board of Directors and one of our biggest supporters, Rosemary is also an active and passionate advocate for domestic violence victims and their families. She made a career of it and spent more than 25 years working on behalf of domestic violence victims and standing up for victims' rights. Now retired, her commitment has never wavered.

For LifeStyles and Executive Director Sandy Washington, Rosemary has been an incredible resource and an advocate who is always ready to help.

“Sandy knows she can call me anytime day or night because that is my passion, helping men or women who are victims of domestic violence,” Rosemary said.

In fact, LifeStyles’ clothing closet is named “Rosemary’s Closet” in her honor. It’s here that victims of domestic violence, as well as others in need, can pick out clothes to wear as they work to get back on their feet.

The pandemic has put a pause to clothing donations and distributions — for health and safety reasons — but LifeStyles is working to resume the service as soon as possible. Rosemary has a trailer full of clothes at the ready, waiting for that day.

Rosemary often ties ribbons on the bags and drops in a card with a little note. She says it’s to remind them that they need to love and believe in themselves. And she’s letting them know that she believes in them, too.

She extends that same belief and encouragement to everyone she encounters, whether it’s the clients that LifeStyles serves or the team at LifeStyles that is working hard to serve them.

“Rosemary’s knowledge in the area of victims' services and domestic violence is incredible,” Washington said. “But I feel so privileged because with all that she lends to the community and LifeStyles she takes time to check on me and encourage me. Sometimes that is so needed.”

Silent Witness

One of Rosemary’s most impactful projects dedicated to raising awareness and support for domestic violence victims is called “Silent Witness.”

Along with her husband and a like-minded partner, Fern Brown, they’ve created a collection of red, wooden silhouettes that represent those who have died in domestic violence incidents.

The silhouettes show 12 adults and two children. Periodically, the displays are set up in prominent locations throughout the community, including the LifeStyles offices.

Messages on the silhouettes communicate details of specific victims: “Mother of Six, Shot by Daughter's Boyfriend.”

They’ve taken the displays up and down the East Coast and are always moved by the impact they make on those who stop to look at them. Often, someone shares that they’ve lost someone important in their lives because of domestic violence.

“They silently stand and tell a very important story. … These are real people being killed,” Rosemary said. “It’s just not women running off to get a protective order because somebody hit them. There are actual people dying at the hands of someone who said they loved them.”

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Rosemary’s support is not limited to domestic violence victims. She regularly drops off food and household items for anyone who might need them.

Though to her it may not always seem like much, she reminds herself that a bag full of toiletry items or a couple cases of water may be exactly what one family needs that day. It could provide a much-needed lift in their lives.

She is a prominent and vocal cheerleader for LifeStyles, telling anyone who will listen about all the available services that the organization makes available.

“There are a lot of people with a lot of needs. It’s never just one need. They have several,” she said. “Food, shelter, clothing, education, laundry, mail. … If you had to leave your home at this very minute, where would you go for help? I’d want to go to LifeStyles.”

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