Every year, UVU (my school) hosts what’s called The Clothesline Project. It’s a project that is designed to raise awareness about domestic abuse of all kinds — physical, emotional, sexual, and also things leading to death and suicide.
The layout is that survivors of abuse create t-shirts where they tell their story or share a message about what happened or what they went through. In some cases, the t-shirts are written by relatives of people who were abused and were killed. It’s pretty intense stuff.
I went last to last year’s exhibit, and went again this year for my psychology class. The first time I went, I looked at almost every t-shirt there, and I was at the exhibit for probably an hour and a half. On multiple occasions I was so grossed out that I almost threw up. A lot of them were terribly traumatizing. I remember driving home afterwards, and I was so overcome by emotion that I was sobbing uncontrollably. Afterwards, I was deeply depressed for about a week. It certainly raised some awareness in me.
I learn a lot from reading first-hand accounts of anything related to situations like this. It gives a clear, non-academic approach of what it feels like for someone to go through these things. The stories are informative, to see how they cope, how they escape, how some of them let go, and so on. There are all kinds of endings as well. Sometimes their family or friends don’t believe them, sometimes the perpetrator dies or gets thrown in jail and is convicted. Other times they get a divorce, or get married to someone else, or just flee the situation completely.
A common problem that I see in a lot of the stories are this — people do not speak up when they are being abused, or do nothing about it. In some cases, someone else in their family was also being abused, but neither one knew. It is so important to speak up, to tell someone! Abuse has many side effects on the person receiving it. It severely mess up their emotions and take away from them a proper healthy reference of how things like relationships, sex, and emotions are supposed to be. The best comment comes from one of the shirts below: “Silence is your enemy. Talking is your medicine.”
I took some snapshots with my phone this year, because I wanted to post some of the stories on here. I only managed to get a few, because I showed up at the display when there was only about twenty minutes before closing. On top of that, I opted to only take pictures of shirts that I thought I’d be able to read later from a photo.
I’m posting the pictures and the text some of the t-shirts on here. Be warned that these are graphic, verbose, and terrifying. Proceed with caution.