Clothesline Project Hangs Domestic Abuse Out to Dry

Photo by Stefanie Murphy

A massive display of T-shirts hung Tuesday on clotheslines with graphic messages and illustrations created by survivors of domestic violence as part of the Clothesline Project. Ramapo students gathered around the Arch to observe the display.

The goal of the project, according to Kevin Hurtado, the violence prevention coordinator for the Women’s Center, is to bring awareness to violence against women.

“We would like people to learn how traumatic abuse can be in all forms. The hope is that Ramapo students will be mobilized to advocate for survivors,” Hurtado commented.

There were all different kinds of sayings on the shirts, some even in different languages, making for a very empowering sight. The Clothesline Project allows people who were victimized and affected by domestic violence to freely express their feelings in a public display of solidarity. Participants created designs and slogans for the white T-shirts, and hung them for others to see.

The first ever Clothesline Project was started by a group of women in Massachusetts in 1990 after they heard that, while 58,000 soldiers died in the Vietnam War, there were about 51,000 women killed around the same time by domestic violence. The shirts were hung on clotheslines, as a visual way to spread awareness that conjures up images of women doing their laundry, chatting with neighbors over their fences, according to the Clothesline Project’s website. The first Clothesline Project occurred during a "Take Back the Night" event. Now, many schools throughout the country participate in the project.

“I think it is very important that Ramapo College gets more involved in teaching students about domestic abuse,” said sophomore Jon Dailey. “Awareness events like these are an easy way to do that, and I believe this awareness, considering the current state of Ramapo, is even more important than alcohol awareness on our campus.”

Junior Brandon Smith also had only positive things to say about the event, commenting on how violence against women is a problem that has plagued all of history.

“It is still something that affects our communities today,” said Smith. “It is a great thing that there is a lot of effort being put into awareness, especially considering the recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the United States Congress.”