The Clothesline Project: A Visual Reminder of Domestic Violence
The shirts hang, colorful and bright, fluttering in the midday breeze. Sitting at tables, volunteers wait, encouraging smiles on their faces. Most students walk by without a care. Some linger. Others hesitate before moving on. One or two approach the tables and, in quiet voices, ask for a shirt.
Santa Monica College (SMC) is holding several events for Women's Empowerment Month. The first of these was the Clothesline Project, which took place on Tuesday, March 5 in the quad on main campus. Volunteers collected donations for Sojourn, a local women's shelter in Santa Monica.
The Clothesline Project is an event held on college campuses throughout the nation. Founded in 1990 by a group of women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the goal of the project is to bring awareness to domestic violence and to honor those who have been affected by it. Participants decorate a t-shirt either with their own stories of survival or with encouragement for others.
Jabria Allen, Director of Activities for the Associated Students, coordinated this year's Clothesline Project.
Allen explained, "Statistics show that women 18-24 suffer the most domestic violence from their partner. It can be anything due to the stigma of being young and accepting relationships that are maybe unhealthy…When you're young and you're dating people, maybe you don't have the access to have people to talk to."
Allen encouraged women to take advantage of the resources SMC has available for students who are victims of domestic violence.
"All the counselors on campus…have access to resources locally, like shelters and hotlines to call, but the wellness center is really good at like helping people who are in immediate danger and just need someone to talk to. That's the first step, opening up and talking about it."
Ashley Hernandez, a volunteer, spoke about her reasons for participating in the Clothesline Project. "Nothing like that has ever really happened to me, but…I know people that have gone through that, so it's kind of like a really profound topic for me," she said.
Hernandez also spoke about how the Clothesline Project helps educate others on the topic of domestic violence. "It just makes people aware of…what's happening," she explained. "Not a lot of people really talk about it. Like you do hear things about it and people mention statistics and stuff, but…people really don't have full conversations about it."
Some of the students who participated shed light on domestic violence in other countries, such as India and the Côte d'Ivoire. One of these students, who asked not to be named, devoted a lot of time to decorate a shirt advocating peace and unity.
A microphone and stand were set up between the two tables. Allen encouraged passersby to share what women's empowerment meant to them and, if they felt comfortable, their own experiences with domestic violence.
"You don't have to suffer alone," Allen said. "We are with you."