Clothesline Project goal to raise awareness of violence against women

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Whether it’s physical fights with kicks or emotional fights with words, there is a problem with violence against women, and one local chapter of Clothesline Project is doing their part to raise awareness. 

There will be a multitude of shirts in the Gardner Student Center Ballroom on March 25 displayed as an extension of a line of other Clothesline Projects across the nation. The shirts will be decorated with words or artwork depicting the emotions of local individuals about their personal experience with domestic abuse. Their experience may be as a survivor of it or as a friend or family member of a victim of abuse.

Two key terms are used when discussing violence against women: victim and survivor.

“Victim is somebody who has been killed due to abuse, and a survivor is anyone who has been in an abusive situation and has gotten out of it,” said Austin Soderquist, the head of the Southern Utah chapter of Clothesline Project and a senior psychology major from Glendale. “We want to help those who have been through abuse to be able to share their experience and add a voice of awareness to the community.” 

The Dove Center is working in partnership with the Clothesline Project to gather everyday living supplies. 

There are boxes around campus with a shirt displaying the Clothesline Project. In the box are hearts listing the living supplies needed for the Dove Center. By taking one of the hearts, you commit to buying the listed supplies. Then you bring the items back and donate it by placing it in one of the boxes.

People who donate are then entered into a drawing for a free helicopter ride above St. George.

You can also donate plain white shirts, art supplies and money aside from the listed items.

“That’s really good [there is an event like this] because I don’t think domestic abuse is really addressed in modern day society very much,” said Marcus Valdez, a freshman communication major from Centerville.

A group of women in Cape Cod, Mass., created the Clothesline Project in 1990 to bring awareness of violence against women. The need for awareness came from looking at statistics for the number of soldiers killed, 58,000, in the Vietnam War and the number of women killed, 51,000, by abuse during the same time frame. 

“I would never want to see one of my friends be one of the 51,000 victims,” said Kayla Massa, a junior criminal justice major from Delta. “I would definitely recommend this resource to a friend that was in a bad relationship and really in need. Sometimes you don’t have the words to say to make them open their eyes and it just seems like the people who are at the Dove Center or who run this chapter [of the Clothes Line Project] are going to be a lot more prepared.”

The original founders of Clothesline Project brought plain shirts to women who had been through abuse, or to family members of victims of abuse, for them to express their feelings on the shirts, whether in words or drawings. Then each shirt was displayed at an event; the first Clothesline Project had 31 shirts.

The event was to demonstrate the communication that was present in years before when women hung laundry up in their yards and the current network of support created by the Clothesline Project. 

There are now Clothesline Projects in 41 states and five countries with people striving to make a difference in the lives of women in the world. 

“The best way is to just start talking about it,” Soderquist said. “We all know somebody who has been abused or is in an abusive relationship right now. Go talk to that person and encourage them to share their story in a shirt. They can get those shirts by contacting me or if they have a plain shirt they can fill that out as well and contact me and give it to me, because that would be a safe way.”

The Clothesline Project shirts never have names of abusers on them, so they’re all anonymous.

“It’s a safe way to get feelings out and to start the healing process,” Soderquist said.

All the shirts will be displayed on March 25 in the Gardner Center Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Soderquist can be contacted at [email protected].

“I would definitely go this event,” Massa said. “My mom was a victim of domestic violence with her first husband, so my whole life with me and my sister, she’s been very open about that and about how important it is to have self esteem and self worth. I grew up with that pretty much nailed into my head, so I think that this is a really awesome cause.”