Clothesline Project Supports Women Facing Violence

Photo by Hope Patti

Wednesday afternoon the Grove was covered with t-shirts hung between trees by the Arch. These t-shirts, covered in supportive and motivational messages, were displayed as a part of the Clothesline Project, an event hosted by the Women’s Center and Bergen County’s healingSPACE to support women who had faced violence.

“Our goal is awareness and protection for victims and survivors of sexual assault,” said Eric Cabrera, case manager for healingSPACE. “All shirts are made by survivors or supporters.”

According to the project’s website, the Clothesline Project began in 1990 with the same goal: to create a space for women who had experienced violence and allow them to express themselves through decorating a t-shirt. The project originated in Cape Cod, MA.

“We want to let survivors know we are there to support them, understand them and give them resources,” Cabrera said.

Typically, the different colors of the t-shirts represent different types of violence, according to the project’s website. White, it explains, is for women who died because of violence while yellow and beige are for women who were battered or assaulted, red, pink and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault, blue and green are for women who survived incest and sexual abuse, purple is for women attacked for their sexual orientation and black is for women attacked for political reasons.   

“It’s a good cause and something we need to spread awareness about,” said freshman Juliet DiBonaventura.

Ramapo’s project was sponsored by the Women’s Center and Bergen County’s healingSPACE. Bergen County’s healingSPACE, which has been working with Ramapo on sexual violence prevention education, is Bergen County's only designated sexual violence resource center.

"The YWCA Bergen County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all," Bergen County’s healingSPACE website states.

T-shirts created and displayed at Ramapo stayed true to the project’s goal, all including supportive and motivational messages.

“Three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well,” one t-shirt read.

Others were less factual and more motivational:

“Silent no more,” was written on another.