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The Many Colors of Domestic Violence

Every year, The Center for Women and Gender and the Perspectives Club host the Clothesline Project during domestic violence awareness month to show the stories of those affected by domestic violence. It was held in the Taggart Student Center Lounge where many students, faculty, staff, and public were able to read and see the effects of domestic violence throughout Cache Valley and the Ogden areas.

Every year, the CWG and the perspectives club collaborate with CAPSA, SAAVI, and locals from the Ogden and Cache Valley areas to decorate and hang up shirts showing the different stories, affects, and emotions of those who have gone through or been victims of domestic violence. While the effects of the hundreds of shirts hanging are aesthetically pleasing, the stories written, drawn, and painted on each one are haunting, stating sayings such as, “You took my dignity,” or “Please don’t hurt me anymore…Stop.”

The different shirts showcase stories of abuse, paint pictures of violence, ask questions of why hurt was being done or happening to people, terrible names people were called scrawled across the vibrant colors, and so much more.

Each color of the t-shirt also has significance as well. White represents women who died because of violence. Yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women. Red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Blue and green t-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse. Purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation. Black is for women attacked for political reasons.

As one student walked away from the display, his head was noticeably shaking and he remarked how difficult it was to see and visual the stories of the people who have had to go through such awful experiences.

Beyond each of the horrific experiences shared, many t-shirts were decorated with encouraging messages, positive self-imagery, and self-love messages such as I matter,” and “You are special” after these people had grown and learned from their experiences.

USU is not alone in sharing these experiences. Hundreds of campuses all across the United States, and several other countries, participate in the Clothesline Project annually. The idea began in 1990 when a small group of women in Massachusetts, most survivors of some type of domestic violence, wanted a way to share their stories and help others experiencing the same type of situations. The clothesline became a natural symbol because laundry is stereo typically defined as women’s work and much information was shared as women would go outside to hang the laundry on the clothesline in past generations.

As students, faculty, staff, and the public came to look through the various t-shirts, they had the opportunity to write on a paper shirt a message of encouragement or their own story to pin on the board. Their picture was also taken with a Polaroid camera, which they could then write on to make a pledge to help stop or speak up against domestic violence. Everyone was also given a purple ribbon, the sign of domestic violence awareness, to wear in remembrance.

While October has come to an end, domestic violence has not. It is a problem that countless people face on a daily basis all around us. There are a variety of ways to help those in need and to speak up. Visit our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages to tell others how you will stop or speak out against domestic violence.