Virtual clothesline project brings awareness to abuse

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The annual Clothesline Project will take place virtually during the week of Oct. 19.

TEHYA TOURNIER

Each year, the UNI Women and Gender Studies program hosts The Clothesline Project due to October being National Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Clothesline Project invites everyone to come together in support of raising awareness for violence against women, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.

Students and the community were asked to submit their t-shirt designs during the week prior to the event. A video of the messages on the shirts will be released on the day of Bearing Witness that is open for anyone to view beginning Monday, Oct. 12.

The Clothesline Project originated in Hyannis, MA in 1990.  A member of the Women’s Cape Cod Defense Agenda learned that while 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War, 51,000 women were killed by men who claimed to have loved them. The numbers shook these women and motivated them to create a movement in order to make their voices heard and shed light on the issue of violence against women.

Usually students, faculty and the community are welcomed to participate in the event and decorate a t-shirt to be hung in front of Maucker Union to share their thoughts, feelings, supportive messages or their stories of assault first hand or otherwise. Due to COVID-19 the event has gone virtual for the first time in its nine-year history at UNI.

Melody Kosobucki, program organizer, says although the event will look different this year, she is still looking forward to it and seeing everyone’s messages and support.

“Just to take a moment to read the words that these survivors have written, so when you’re actually holding the shirt and the words, that a survivor held and wrote their message, that’s really powerful.”

One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Kosobucki states this event is important because statistics of violence are rising everyday, especially while being in the middle of a pandemic. 

“It is even more important now to have some awareness of this issue, said Kosobucki. “I am looking forward to pushing for violence to be addressed more properly and efficiently.”

Kosobucki says for any survivors of abuse seeing the virtual t-shirt video or hearing about this event, they are heard and seen.

“We believe them and their story, and even if it is not their time to come forward and talk about their story, just know our hearts go out to you and we believe you.”