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Community promotes domestic violence awareness with T-shirts

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THE CLOTHESLINE PROJECT: Eight Miami County community members (two not shown) display their experiences with domestic violence on t-shirts in City Hall as part of The Clothesline Project started in 1990.
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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS: Miami County residents can view the shirts in City Hall and read personal messages created by the survivors as well as find out what each color of shirt means.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, some Miami County residents have stepped forward to share their own experiences with domestic violence to the community in the form of a t-shirt.

The t-shirts, a part of The Clothesline Project, are hung up in City Hall and were created by members in the community who have experienced or been exposed to domestic violence, according to Sexual Assault Victims Advocate Heidi Wright.

Every detail of the shirts were created with a purpose specific to the individuals who made them right down to the colors and the messages. The colors of the shirts vary from white, which is representative of those who have died as a result of domestic violence, to red, pink and orange which represents those who have survived rape or sexual assault.

The colors blue and green represents those who have survived incest or childhood sexual abuse, purple represents those who have survived attacks because of their sexual orientation and yellow/beige represents those who have survived domestic violence.

“So this can be applied all over the world,” Wright said.

The Clothesline Project was founded in Massachusetts in 1990 after members of Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda learned that during the time 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War, 51,000 U.S. women were killed by men who were supposed to protect and love them, according to The Clothesline Project’s website.

“The mission of The Clothesline Project is to educate students and the community that violence is a problem everywhere, help is available, there is hope and a path to healing,” said information from TCP website.

There are six shirts hanging up in City Hall that display different messages of either hope or loss.

“Some of them are messages of hope and some of them are not as hopeful,” Wright said.

The project is not only a chance to awaken community members and increase their awareness that there are domestic violence survivors in Miami County, but it’s also an opportunity for those survivors to voice their thoughts, hang it up and walk away from it.

Within the world today, there are many cases of domestic violence which go unreported which leaves many individuals to cope in silence.

According to Wright, one in three teenagers experience teen dating violence, but because youth have a tendency to shy away from speaking with adults about it, the issue can go unnoticed.

Domestic violence does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone, which is why Wright hopes residents stop by City Hall and see the shirts hanging up that represent each survivor’s story.

“I’m hoping they’re going to see the sense of hope a lot of individuals expressed,” Wright said. “I think we need that in the community right now and in the country.”

As well, Wright hopes the project encourages more domestic violence survivors to come forward and get help. Individuals who have suffered from or know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence can reach out to Wright at 765-513-8505.

Wright said she’s available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can help individuals find resources in the community as well as support them.

Domestic violence survivors can also contact the Family Services Association of Howard County for support and resources. FSAHC has a crisis line and members who care.

“We have safe place they can go and we have an advocate in the community,” Wright said.

Miami County residents interested in seeing the t-shirts can stop into City Hall or visit The Clothesline Project website to learn more about the overall project.

“We are hoping this is a message of hope and support for people that haven’t come forward and we hope they don’t think they are alone,” Wright said.