Clothesline Project strings together education, insight

More than 120 shirts were created for event.
T-shirts hang outside as a part of the Clothesline Project on Oct. 16 on Lowry Mall. The Clothesline Project is a visual demonstration of support for survivors of relationship violence. Maneater File Photo

Students had the opportunity to learn the stories of survivors of sexual and physical assault Tuesday, due to the work of many women and two organizations dedicated to the cause. The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center hosted the 18th Clothesline Project to raise awareness about violence against women.

A large clothesline holding more than 120 shirts stretched across Lowry Mall, accompanied by members of the RSVP Center who distributed information about violence against women. The shirts were made anonymously by victims who live in shelters and want to tell the stories of their assaults through T-shirts. The shirts were emblazoned with phrases such as “I can stand alone” and “I still wear your chains."

RSVP Center Coordinator Danica Wolf said she felt the shirts were not only a good release mechanism for the victims, but also an excellent learning device for students to become more aware of the consequences of abuse.

“This event gives victims an anonymous outlet to tell their story while helping all students, faculty and staff realize that these stories are real,” Wolf said. “Often, the victims do not want others to know what is happening to them. These incidents happen every day to people we know and this is one way to inform others without having to put a face to the victims.”

Below the clothesline were pamphlets containing facts about sexual assaults along with pins to show support for stopping abuse in relationships. Many of the staff members were speaking to spectators about the event and what they could do to help.

Sophomore Katharine Joiner said the event made her more aware of relationship abuse and eager to support the cause further.

“I knew a little about the shelters for abused women in town but did not know these women had the courage to stand up and speak out about it,” she said. “It takes very brave women to make shirts to depict their experiences so we can all learn further and not ignore the situations we see, but make certain we can do something to stop it from taking place.”

The event was held with the help of True North of Columbia, a nonprofit organization that supports abuse victims and survivors through counseling and shelter. The women of True North’s shelter made the majority of the shirts on display.

Sophomore Kayla Jackson, RSVP Center staff member, said the Clothesline Project helps to demystify the subject of relationship abuse.

“People don’t like to talk about abuse, therefore there is a gray area that needs to be fixed,” she said. “We need to be educated so we know what is happening and what can be done to resolve it.”

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