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Clothesline Project spotlights domestic abuse

Ashley Morgado
Staff Writer

The Iota Delta Sorority put on the Clothesline Project, a three-day event earlier this month that potentially touched a lot of people – particularly those who have been touched by domestic violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime. The Clothesline Project in Sneaky Park was an event to raise awareness about abuse to women and children.

“It’s a taboo subject and people don’t like to be confronted about it (because) it makes it more real,” said Kaitlin Eckert, a senior psychology major and Iota Delta member.

This annual event held in March, is part of a national and international project in 41 states and five countries. The March event coincides with Women’s History Month.

“The Clothesline Project” started in October 1990 in Hyannis, Mass., as part of an annual “Take Back the Night” march and rally.

According to the Project’s Web site, the event “is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt.

They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.”

The array of shirts decorated by the La Verne community filled a small area in Sneaky Park with powerful messages to empower women in fighting back against abuse.

“People are hesitant to ask, but we try to make it as comfortable as possible,” said Brittany Gorski, a senior liberal studies major at the University of La Verne and Iota Delta member.

“On the first day, people are very shy to come by,” Eckert said. “People sometimes wait till the last day to make a shirt.”

Aligned in neat rows at the booth were five different color shirts, each color standing for something different.

“Each shirt represents a different abuse,” Gorski said. “(The event) puts the issues out there.”

The shirts stood for issues as simple as “dating bills of rights” and “men/women who care” to more intense issues such as “sexual assault safety tips” and even a “men’s pledge to end rape.”

Each person who participated in the event was given a shirt to create for free.

The messages of hope, restraint, and even heart wrenching stories of abuse hung on the clothesline for the community to see.

“Not only is this event powerful for women, but it’s also huge for guys to come out and take a pledge to stop violence,” Eckert said. “Men don’t realize their power.”

The blue shirt that represents the “men’s pledge to end rape” had a tremendous turnout according to Iota Delta members.

La Verne is one of the many colleges participating in this and other such projects.

“Bringing it to a college creates more of an impact,” said Alexa Shugart, a senior psychology major and Iota Delta member.

“I strongly agree with what they are doing,” said John Lejay, senior public relations major and a participant in the Clothesline event. “I’ve participated every year for the past four years. I think it’s great.”

Not only does the event allow people to express their feeling through creative t-shirt artwork, but it also promotes information about what the options are if someone encounters abuse.

Brochures and flyers about sexually transmitted diseases and annual examinations were scattered across the event tables.

“We want to make aware of what could happen, and what to do next,” Gorski said.

This event is one of two that Iota Delta puts on to inform college students about safe sex and relationships. The sorority’s “Latex or not sex” event is scheduled for May. them on.

The project’s coordinators here believe such events are extremely important.

“Personally knowing people who have been abused, it’s important to know that people like us are listening,” said Jennifer Juhasz, Iota Delta philanthropy coordinator.

If you missed this event but would like to get involved, visit The Clothesline Project official Web site at clotheslineproject.org.

Ashley Morgado can be reached at ashley.morgado@laverne.edu.

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