The Clothesline Project Preview

Maybe you stumbled upon the Courthouse Square last year and noticed shirts hanging from tree to tree with messages of love and compassion written on them. Each of those shirts - and each one that will hang from a clothesline across the Square this Friday - represents an individual who took a moment to remember the victim or survivor of intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence is closer to our front door than we think, with millions of Americans affected each year. The term describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression by a current or former intimate partner.

When I started writing this article, I didn’t think it would be something that I had been directly affected by, but it hit closer to home than expected. It’s hard for us to acknowledge that we are victims of this kind of abuse, we want to think “it happens to everyone” and “it’s not a big deal” but it doesn’t and it is. Intimate Partner Violence is the conversation we don’t want to have, but we should be having. Cracking the door to talk about something so personal may open your eyes to situations your closest friends have been in, or maybe something happening in your own life you have turned a blind eye too.

Nicole Antonette Owens, Community Education Liaison for Denton County Friends of the Family and AmeriCorps VISTA, says “I hope that victims or survivors will feel supported by the community and know that there is help and they aren't alone. I hope the community will see this and recognize how widespread the problem of domestic violence is.”In today’s society it’s even more prevalent that domestic and intimate partner violence isn’t something that only affects women, but men as well. The Clothesline Project is a chance to recognize this ongoing issue, and bring awareness to it in the form of a public demonstration.

“Intimate partner violence affects our community, our friends and our family. With one in four women and one in seven men affected, it's likely that we all care for someone affected. If we can help open the eyes of our community to realizing how widespread intimate partner violence is, then maybe we can create a community in which victims feel safe reporting their abuse and won't feel ashamed. And of course, we might encourage our community to become passionate about prevention programs like the children's presentations we offer at schools.”

Why t-shirts? Why a clothesline? One of the women behind the original movement, Rachel Carey-Harper, was moved by the power of the AIDS Quilt and presented the idea of using shirts hanging on a clothesline as a way to raise more awareness for the issue. Like many household chores, doing the laundry is quickly associated as to being a “woman’s job”, and in the days of neighborhood gossip exchanged over backyard fences, the idea of spreading the message of awareness for this cause truly resonated with where it was born from. Denton County Friends of the Family has worked with The Clothesline project in some capacity over the 10 years, in some instances partnering up with UNT, or during other times of the year that don’t necessarily coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month as this event will.

The Clothesline Project will take place this Friday, October 7 on the Courthouse Lawn from 7-10pm. Shirts and supplies will be provided by DCFOF, so all you need is to bring yourself to show your support and bring additional awareness to this cause.

Header image design by Jason Lee