Victims tell stories of abuse with clothing

By Iryna Dzyubynska

Survivors of physical abuse are hanging their stories for all to see in an art exhibit focused on the fight to eradicate domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Clothesline Project exhibit is debuting tonight from 6 to 8 at the Rasdall Gallery in the Student Center with a reception following the opening.

The exhibit displays T-shirts made by survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as by students and student organizations who support an end to the brutality, as a visual representation of how violent behavior has impacted their lives.

Created in 1990 in Cape Cod, Mass., the project is a way for survivors of domestic violence to tell their stories anonymously. Women who have experienced domestic violence, have been affected by it or are committed to its end can decorate shirts telling stories of abuse.

The shirts are then displayed on a clothesline symbolizing the “airing of one’s dirty laundry” in public, said Anita M. Groenwoldt, a secondary social studies education junior, organizer of the Clothesline Project exhibit and a student volunteer at the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center.

The project has spread nationwide since its inception and has expanded so that women with stories of sexual assault can also participate. UK is hosting the event to raise awareness on these issues that are relevant not only in the world, but also on campus, said Callie Hanks, director of the Student Activities Board Cultural Arts Committee.

“The main purpose of the display is to allow survivors to be empowered and tell their stories safely, and it also allows women to see they’re supported,” Groenwoldt said. “Our display is slightly different in that we allow supporters of violence prevention to decorate shirts as well.”

This is the third time the Clothesline Project has been featured on campus. The exhibit is a part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which started yesterday.

“Having participated last year in making a shirt and seeing the display, I was more than willing to offer them the space again this year as well as general support for the project,” Hanks said.  “I believe in supporting the cause; it can happen to any one of us. Decorating a T-shirt is a small way in which I can help.”

The VIP Center, SAB and Student Government are sponsoring the project, which will be on display through Oct. 31, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.