Clothesline Project will turn Voorhees Mall into display of solidarity for domestic violence victims
On Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Rutgers University Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) will be hosting their Clothesline Project event at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus.
One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to apress release from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The Clothesline Project, which Rutgers has hosted annually since the 1990s, is part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the sheer scope of interpersonal violence in every community, said Loren Linscott, the director for VPVA.
“I’ve always seen this event as (a part of) the process of trauma healing,” he said.
At the event tomorrow, students will have an opportunity to share their experiences or express emotions related to interpersonal violence by decorating t-shirts with messages and then hanging them for display on campus.
The display is meant to bear witness to the interpersonal violence that occurs in the community: survivors and supporters create the shirts “to give a voice to their experience and break the silence surrounding interpersonal violence,” according to the VPVA website.
“The messaging can come from any type of voice,” Linscott said. “If I am a survivor myself, I may make a shirt talking about my experience, but it is also for friends, family members and loved ones of a survivor. If someone I care about has experienced interpersonal violence, I might write a message for them to show support.”
The Rutgers Clothesline Project is intended for students who have been affected by any kind of interpersonal violence, he said. This addresses any physical abuse or psychological manipulation in a relationship, such as incest, rape, molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence, he said.
Linscott stressed that interpersonal violence is not limited to a single type of student or a single gender — it affects men and women of every demographic and every social or academic circle.
“The statistics at Rutgers tell us that the majority of people who are survivors tell another student,” he said.
This event offers something that cannot be learned through a traditional bystander intervention program because it cultivates empathy, Linscott said.
In addition to the physical exhibit, students can also contribute to a virtual display, where survivors and supporters can share their stories on an online forum. More information about the forum will be available at tomorrow’s event.
“You’re more likely to be a supporter than a victim,” he said, emphasizing the importance of listening and understanding when approached by a survivor. “Think about people in your family who have been hurt, whether it’s your mom, dad, brother or sister, grandmother — this event is an opportunity to write on a t-shirt, yes, but it’s also a chance for people to form informal networks of support and to reflect on their own lives.”
Christina Gaudino is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in public policy. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.