The Clothesline Project is a national campaign that was started in 1990 to create awareness for the violence against women. The original clothesline had 31 shirts hung in Hyannis, Mass. in the fall of 1990. Since then the project has expanded to include thousands of clotheslines around the world—including Albion.
Survivors of physical, sexual, emotional abuse are allowed to express their feelings by creating a shirt that is hung up on the clothesline to be displayed. This allows survivors to find a different way to use their voice to bring awareness and know they aren’t alone.
“Doing the laundry has always been considered women’s work, and in the days of close-knit neighborhoods, women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry,” said Carol A. Chichetto, chair of the project’s steering committee, on the campaign’s website. “The concept was simple—let each woman tell her own story, in her own unique way, and hang it out for all to see. It was and is a way of airing society’s dirty laundry.”
The t-shirts are also color-coded to represent what the survivor went through.
White represents someone who died due to violence. Yellow represents domestic violence or abuse. Red, orange and pink represent someone who is a survivor of rape or childhood sexual abuse. Green and blue represent someone who is a survivor of incest or childhood sexual abuse. Purple represents someone who was attacked because of their sexual orientation. Brown or gray represents survivors of emotional, spiritual or verbal abuse. Black represents someone who was disabled as a result of their attack or was attacked because of their disability.
Due to the goal of the project, of breaking the silence on violence, the t-shirts are not censored, allowing the survivor to have free control of how their emotions are expressed. This means that some t-shirts include swear words, violence or vulgar descriptions.
Although some of the t-shirts may be hard to look at, campaign members encourage viewers to imagine what the person who made the shirt must have gone through and are still healing from. Looking at the t-shirt alone is difficult, but it doesn’t even begin to portray the difficulty of living through the experience.
The goal of this project is to encourage viewers and survivors to break the silence on violence; encourage and support victims throughout the recovery process; hold assailants accountable; commit to not condoning this violence in society; and become involved with trying to make this world a safer place.
The shirts in the KC were provided by Sexual Assault Services at Bronson Hospital in Battle Creek. If you are interested in advocacy work you can contact Sexual Assault Services at (269)-245-3925 to become a sexual assault advocate. If you would like to be involved on campus you can contact the Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Center on campus who put on the display here on campus or contact Michelle Croce at Counseling Services to become a Local Sexual Assault Advocate on campus.
If you or anyone you know is struggling please reach out:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800) 273-8255 (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
- Mental Health Association in Michigan: (248) 647-1711
- Summit Point – 24 Hour Crisis: 1(800) 632-5449
- Summit Point Youth Mobile Crisis Team: (269) 441-5945
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 74174
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1(800)656-4773
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline1(800)799-7233