The Clothesline Project Shows Effects of Sexual, Relationship Violence

By Cami Gore

“Ask yourself … when will no really mean no? How about now?” This anonymous message was one of the many written on shirts displayed at CARE to Stop Violence’s Clothesline Project. 

 Campus Advocates Respond and Educate to Stop Violence (CARE) hosted their biannual Clothesline Project on Oct. 23, 2019. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and CARE will host the event again in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

 “The Clothesline Project is a visual representation of the impacts of sexual and relationship violence on the campus community. This event provides passersby with an opportunity to confront the issue of power-based violence and create and display their own messages to the community,” according to CARE’s Facebook page

 Shirts with powerful messages filled University of Maryland’s Hornbake Plaza. A peer educator for CARE, Isabella Vertefeuille, said that the project has been around since the ’90s. She said some of the shirts hung were from past years.  As participants walked by and wrote their own messages, those new shirts were added to the display or replaced the older ones. 

 Vertefeuille estimates that about 50 new shirts were added to the display. CARE keeps shirts from previous projects and Vertefeuille said that they now have about 3,500 stored. 

 “I just want to give them a hug,” said freshman psychology major Karena Chu, referring to the people who wrote the impactful statements. “The system definitely screws over a lot of people.”

 A few shirts called out specific fraternities on campus. “I hope you burn in hell because I know I won’t be there,” read one shirt on top of Greek letters. One passerby recalled there being more fraternities called out in past Clothesline Projects. 

 Other shirts focused more on domestic violence including messages like “Emotional abuse is violence too. Words leave scars that never heal.”

 Passersby had the opportunity to sign a pledge against domestic violence. They were also able to visit tables run by peer educators. Some chose to take in the display on their own. 

“You can see the impact on someone. That makes doing this worth it,” said Vertefeuille.

On her overall impression of the display, Chu said, “It just shows how much more work we need to do as a society.”

Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Domestic Violence Hotline:  1−800−799−7233 

Featured Photo Credit: Cami Gore/Bloc Reporter.

Cami Gore is a sophomore journalism and dance major and can be reached at camgore13@gmail.com.

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