Project Clothesline is a nationwide project that documents the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Survivors and people who knew victims make T-shirts about their experiences. These shirts are then displayed publicly to highlight the issue of violence against women.
The Women’s Center at UMBC takes part in this project. The shirts are displayed twice a year. During relationship violence awareness month in October, and again for sexual violence awareness month in April. I saw the clothesline last year, and it really hit me.
The clothesline gives survivors, and the people who knew victims a chance to talk about their experiences. The stories displayed sometimes talk about hope, sometimes talk about pain. The T-shirts illuminate the multitude of experiences people have with abuse and assault. It is an opportunity to show the world what being a survivor/victim means. For me, it was a chance to come out to myself and my friends as a survivor.
Last week I made a T-shirt in the women’s center to add to the display. Project Clothesline gave me a chance to be a communicative body, to share my personal feelings and story with the UMBC community. It was a really cathartic and healing experience for me. I was able to add my voice to others, to talk about what it means to be a survivor.
It is sometimes comforting and sometimes terrifying to see so many other people who have suffered from abuse and assault. Project Clothesline is a chance to highlight the individuality of violence. Each of our experiences is separate. Each of experiences means something different to us.
Through Project Clothesline I was able to tell my story, to add my voice to the chorus of survivors.