By: KATE LUCE
More than 100 t-shirts painted with messages of encouragement, triumph and survival are hard to miss on campus.
Those t-shirts are part of the Clothesline Project, which is currently on display near the Student Activities Center and Northside Hall throughout the month of October. The Clothesline Project is intended to bring awareness and start a discussion about domestic violence within the community and on a national scale.
It might be difficult for the student or community member passing through campus to not feel moved by the powerful messages and stories painted on the shirts. With shirts stating “Survivor of battery,” and, “Picked on, still beautiful,” the Clothesline Project is a way in which abuse is given a more personal depiction. These are real stories and people who were affected by abuse.
The use of t-shirts may seem strange to some, but according to www.clotheslineproject.org, it is a way for the community to just see how many survivors and victims there are in domestic violence. For the South Bend community, this project sheds some light on an issue so many are ashamed of.
Since this October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is also a way for the many students involved in this annual project to commemorate it in a way that is tangible for the students of IUSB.
“The goal of the Clothesline Project on our campus is to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and domestic violence and to provoke conversation about these topics because we know the first step in solving or dealing with a problem is to first admit that there is a problem,” Briauna Gaffney, one of the Feminist Student Union’s (FSU) presidents, said.
Although the project is national, the criminal justice department brought it to IUSB in 2013. Recently, the project was shifted over to the Women’s and Gender Studies and FSU where it has been since 2016.
“April Lidinsky, the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and I just knew we wanted to do it again this year. The whole FSU team knew how important it was to not only our community, but to our campus as well. We were all happy to do this again,” Gaffney said.
This year, the FSU had a large part in the resurgence of the project, and with the help of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the LGBTQ Center, the Honors Program, and the Family Justice Center of South Bend, the project was able to be a part of the IUSB campus once again.
The YWCA involvement includes signs that are also posted within the project urging those affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence to seek out their hotline for such issues, and with the words of survivors and supporters, organizers of this project hope to help individuals who are in need.
October should not be the only month this crime is brought to the attention of the community, Gaffney said.
“I think for me personally I would want more coverage on domestic violence and intimate partner violence on campus because it is a safe space for us as college students to discuss hard topics that may be otherwise disregarded outside of school,” Gaffney said.
For those affected by domestic violence, there are resources available not only this month but throughout the year. Contact the South Bend YWCA at 574-233-9491 for resources and more information.