By: Steven Prescott
Students and staff walking past the Morgan University Center on Oct. 25 were introduced to stories as a part of The Clothesline Project, a clothesline of t-shirts designed to bring awareness to dating violence and other types of violence.
The project is run by the Women and Gender Studies Department in conjunction with the Center for Service Learning & Community Engagement. Jill Eichhorn is Coordinator of the Women and Gender Studies Program and helps bring the project to APSU every year.
“The purpose of the project is to raise awareness about the amount of interpersonal violence in the community,” Eichhorn said. “We should all be concerned because interpersonal violence is a community issue that affects everyone.”
A number of stories are written by survivors themselves and some by their friends and family.
Eichhorn seeks to challenge misconceptions surrounding assault and abuse.
“Most women and girls know the person who violated them,” she said.
Eichhorn offers that statistics are hard to come up with because so few women and girls can comfortably come forward. This project is one of many her department uses to give these individuals a voice.
The t-shirts are organized in a color system. Blue and green shirts represent incest. Lighter colors indicate sexual assault and darker colors cover issues concerning sexual orientation or gender discrimination. The white shirts represent violence resulting in death or murder.
“I thought it was very interesting because it is the first time I have even seen something like this,” freshman Psychology major Chloe Neathery said. “It amazed me how many people have a story to tell. It breaks my heart that people have to go through it in the first place and are able to talk about it and not be alone.”
Neathery attended the event with freshman Psychology major and member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) Kiara Winebarger.
“When I first heard about it, I did not know this thing existed and was so big. We were struggling to find places to hang the shirts…I think it would be good for survivors to know they are not alone,” Winebarger said.
Freshman English major Jillian Bollmann echoed the sentiment of surprise shared by a number of students about the number of shirts that were displayed.
Dating and relationship violence is one of main issues the project sees displayed on college campuses.
“Students should try to know each other as human beings before they start focusing on a sexual connection,” Eichhorn said. “Sexuality is a sharing of intimacy, and if you do that before you meet someone then you are not really ready for that type of intimacy.”
Eichhorn directs students to look up the Dating Bill of Rights and discuss them with one another before entering into a relationship.
Select pieces from the Clothesline Project will be displayed throughout the year and showcase dates are announced through PeayLink.