The Clothesline Project decorated the campus with vivid T-shirts and gave students and survivors of violence and sexual assault the opportunity to let their voices be heard on Tuesday, April 18.
Students walked by and stopped to reflect on the hundreds of shirts created by survivors and strung up on clotheslines surrounding the Quad.
Each color symbolized a different crime; red, pink and orange signify rape, green and blue signify child sexual abuse, gray signifies human trafficking, purple signifies rape due to sexual orientation, black signifies sexual harassment, white signifies homicide and yellow signifies domestic violence.
Students were also invited to sit down and use markers and paint pens to create their own shirts to be displayed.
Many shared messages of comfort and solidarity, told stories of abuse and survival and displayed artwork. Some were fashioned in memory of people who have lost their lives to the violence they experienced.
“People walk by and say ‘this is so sad’ or ‘this is so depressing’ but it is actually so healing for the victims,” explained Dawn Foor, supervisor for Community Service Program (CSP) Sexual Assault Victim Services.
“Most of the people making these shirts have never told anyone. This is their first opportunity to shout to the world that this happened to them and they are okay,” she continued.
Viewing all of the shirts and reading the real survival stories can be a very emotional experience. One student tearfully said that she wished more people would stop to read them.
The Clothesline Project in Orange County began in 2001 with a display of just eight shirts. The use of a clothesline was inspired by a generation of women who used their time hanging laundry and talking to their neighbors as a form of therapy, according to Foor.
It originally started as something just for sexual assault victims, but over the years has expanded to include those who have experienced or have been affected by domestic violence and human trafficking.
The annual event was co-hosted by Community Service Programs Sexual Assault Victim Services, a nonprofit that provides sexual assault and crisis services in Orange County and serves between 1,600 to 1,800 victims each year.
Booths for CSP, Associated Students, Campus Safety, and Health Services were also set up in the Quad to provide more information about sexual assault prevention and how to support victims.
For more information about Community Service Programs and different types of assistance they provide, visit their website.
The CSP Sexual Assault Victim Services has a 24-Hour crisis hotline that can be reached at 714-957-2737 or 949-831-9110.