Clothesline Project represents domestic violence victims
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Those who walk into the Blount County Justice Center will see a visual display that promotes awareness of domestic violence.
The display, better known as The Clothesline Project, was started in 1990 in Hyannis, Mass., featuring T-shirts hung to represent a particular woman’s experience by the survivor herself or by a loved one.
The Justice Center will display the T-shirts until Friday. The project was recently displayed at Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County campus.
The purpose of the project was four-fold:
• To bear witness to the survivors, as well as the victims of the war against women;
• To help with the healing process for people who have lost a loved one or are survivors of this violence;
• To educate, document and raise society’s awareness of the extent of the problem of violence against women;
• To provide a nationwide network of support, encouragement and information for other communities starting their own Clothesline Project.
The project was brought into Blount County by the Blount County Task Force Against Domestic Violence 18 years ago.
“It goes out into the community every year,” said Monica Aistrop, victim’s advocate in the Blount County District Attorney’s Office and the task force’s co-treasurer. “T-shirts are made by women every year in Blount County that survived domestic violence. For those that have not survived domestic violence, the T-shirts are made by a family member or friend.”
There are different color codes for the T-shirts, representing each woman’s experience with domestic violence. They include:
• White for women who died from domestic violence;
• Yellow or beige for women who were battered or assaulted;
• Red, pink or orange for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted;
• Blue or green for female survivors or incest or child sexual abuse;
• Purple or lavender for women attacked because of their sexual orientation.
“The story begins with the color of the shirt,” Aistrop said. “It’s really powerful, knowing that the T-shirts were made by women in Blount County.”
Aistrop and Judy Humphrey, former victim’s advocate and the task force’s secretary, shared a story from a high school where a teacher decided to disclose her abuse and make a T-shirt.
“I was talking to her at the high school, and she made the T-shirt telling her story, and her husband and children helped her make it,” Aistrop said. “The kids didn’t even know about it until that night and they brought it to me the next day. It was powerful.”
“As we said before, we feel like it takes the community and everyone working together to carry the message against domestic violence,” Humphrey said. “(State) Sen. (Doug) Overbey said you almost have to break the silence and the top off, and let people know that there’s somebody out there that will help you. He had it very well said.”