Fullerton College held multiple events last week to raise awareness for survivors of sexual assault and for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women from across the country. Displays such as the Clothesline Project and Nicole Merton’s Pop Up Art Installation gave survivors the opportunity to raise awareness and share their stories.

Some of the shirts strung across the Fullerton College quad.

Shirts on display across the Fullerton College quad to raise awareness for sexual assault survivors on April 19. Photo credit: Valerie Strummer

The Clothesline Project brought T-shirts from Waymakers to the quad and gave students the opportunity to write on them and share a part of their story. Each of the shirts strung up on clotheslines across the campus was a representation of someone’s unique experience as a survivor.

“It’s interesting to see how each shirt tells a different story of how people interpret their journey, and how some are fresh and raw while others are 15 years later or so,” said Christina Beecher a volunteer organizer.

People in passing reading some of the stories on the shirts.

People in passing reading some of the stories on the shirts at the April 19 Clothesline Project display in the Fullerton College quad. Photo credit: Valerie Strummer

Karla Jimenez is a self-described victim advocate for survivors helping with the Clothesline Project. She mentioned the impact the display has had on them, “Over the years, it’s been family and seeing the shirts and stories of people I’ve known. It’s knowing they have extra tools in their tool kit or an outlet.”

While healing from trauma may be different from person to person, helping others gain a voice can be uplifting.

Kendra Dalman another victim advocate said, “I knew someone who was abused and trafficked. It changed my view on the world entirely.”

Shirts strung across the quad with the organizer's booth in the background

Shirts strung across the quad telling the stories of survivors of sexual assault at the Clothesline Project on April 19. Photo credit: Valerie Strummer

There was also an art display by Nicole Merton which featured her photography and stories of indigenous women that were a part of the MMIW awareness movement. Some of the letters attached to the photography explained why the writer decided to be a part of the project.

Indigenous women and their stories as part of Nicole Merton's display

Photographs of indigenous women and their stories for Nicole Merton’s display at the MMIW awareness event in the quad on April 19. Photo credit: Valerie Strummer

A Fullerton College graduate, Merton, started the project while she was enrolled and has kept the project growing as more indigenous women came forward about the issue. Merton explained how many mothers bring in their children, and how teenagers are also jumping on board.

She has photographed 85 women and plans to continue. The oldest woman photographed was a 93-year-old member of the Miwok Tribe, who Merton said she was very thankful for.

“In 2016, the Department of Justice reported 5,712 incidents of murdered or missing indigenous women,” Merton said. “Since the pandemic, there has been between 10 and 12 thousand cases.”

Nicole Merton holding up one of her photos at her art display for MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women)

Nicole Merton holding a photograph at her art display for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women or MMIW awareness on April 19 in the Fullerton College quad. Photo credit: Valerie Strummer

Last week, women from different age groups came together at Fullerton College to help raise awareness and activism for the MMIW. With the impact awareness events can have on survivors of sexual assault, events like these can be another step forward on the road to recovery.

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