Clothesline Project displays t-shirts to raise awareness for sexual violence

Event part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month encourages people to speak out against abuse.

Brightly colored T-shirts bearing messages condemning violence against women were hung on a clothesline running along the Spine during the Clothesline Project display.

Students passing by the Spine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. were invited to decorate their own colored T-shirt, regardless of whether or not they were personally victims of violence.

The T-shirts that decorated the area were made by participants from the previous year’s event. T-shirts were color-coded to represent different forms of abuse and their outcomes. For example, a purple T-shirt indicated that an individual was attacked because of his or her sexual orientation.

“I think it’s a great way to raise awareness, to tell students to support victims so that they [victims] know they are not alone,” said Ruth Tesfaye, a sophomore majoring in biology.

The idea to use T-shirts as a means of spreading awareness about violence against women originated in Cape Cod, Mass., where a group of women demonstrated by hanging T-shirts on clotheslines to share their stories, according to the Clothesline Project website.

Thursday’s event, inspired by the national Clothesline Project, was hosted by the Interpersonal Violence Prevention (IVP) program, Greek Life organizations and student clubs. This April, a series of events that also focused on violence were held in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Previous events held this month included the “Take Back The Night” march and the “Day of Silence.”

Jazell Johnson, a health educator at Decker Student Health Services Center and campus R.E.A.C.H. (Real Education About College Health) internship instructor, said the Clothesline Project is important to both spread awareness and provide support.

“Unfortunately, sexual assault and related crimes aren’t talked about despite the fact that they occur every day,” she said. “By hosting this program, our efforts will dispel this misconception and increase awareness of the real issues at hand.”

20:1, a group named after the number of women sexually assaulted every hour in the United States, offered participants a chance to win a prize every time they spun a wheel and answered trivia questions related to sexual assault. Women’s Student Union provided neon signs listing statistics about domestic violence throughout the world.

“The message we hope to send to the student body is, these types of crimes are real and in fact do occur to all populations, including college students,” Johnson said. “We hope to create and foster an environment of positivity, support and respect for those who are affected.”

Haley Murphy, a graduate student studying student affairs administration and a representative for the IVP program, said it was important for students to be aware of the many resources on campus.

“[Violence] is scary to report and it makes people shy away, but that’s why IVP is a big part of this,” Murphy said. “We are here to tell students that there are many community resources that can offer lots of things for them.”