‘The Clothesline Project’ honors survivors and raises awareness about gender-based violence

 The Women's Center exhibits a project called the clothesline project, in which women, who were victims of sexual assault, created a t-shirt to be displayed. (Hanaisha Lewis/The Daily Campus)

The Women's Center exhibits a project called the clothesline project, in which women, who were victims of sexual assault, created a t-shirt to be displayed. (Hanaisha Lewis/The Daily Campus)

The Clothesline Project, a week-long visual display designed to raise awareness about gender-based violence, started yesterday on the oak leaf on Fairfield Way. The event takes place daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and lasts until Thursday.

The project, which was organized by the Violence Against Women Prevention Program through the UConn Women’s Center, shows support for survivors and secondary survivors of gender-based violence. They hung a clothesline stretching between two lamp posts outside of McHugh Hall, which showcased dozens of t-shirts made by UConn students who have survived sexual assault or were moved by someone they know who has.

The display was run by the Women’s Center, which had a table set up with pamphlets about the issue, encouraging students to take them to learn about the event and gender-based violence. Kalliope Sanderson, a seventh-semester psychology major, and Nicole Simonsen, the graduate intern for the Violence Against Women Prevention Program, were sitting at the table and talking with students who passed by.

“[The project] is honoring survivors and remembering victims,” Sanderson said. “It aids in the healing process and raises awareness of things happening in the UConn community.”

She said the project features words of support and the stories of survivors, allowing them to break their silence in a therapeutic way that also gets people to pay attention to the issue.

“It’s a visual display to raise awareness,” Sanderson said.

The multi-colored t-shirts were painted with powerful and encouraging messages, and each represents survivors of sexual assault.

“My voice will be heard,” one read in bold letters. “I will not be silenced.”

“He tried to block my sunshine but he didn’t know that my sunshine came from me,” a bright yellow shirt read.

There were dozens of t-shirts with beautiful artwork, including a realistic painting of a crying eye that read, “We’ll catch your tears.” Many were similarly decorated to match the theme of their quote.

Another read, “They took what wasn’t theirs. I have the right to be angry.”

The phrases were both powerful and empowering. You can tangibly feel the emotion that went into them.

“I am not what happened to me,” declared another shirt. “I am what I choose to become.”

The shirts were powerful and deeply resonating, especially to students who stopped to see what the event was about.

“It’s really great to raise awareness about this issue, especially one that isn’t often addressed,” said third-semester human development and family studies major Kenechi Nkwo. “It’s great to see the UConn community supporting people who have gone through this.”

In addition to the clothesline, the project also had an interactive board for students to get involved and show their support. There were small, paper cutouts of t-shirts and sharpies available, encouraging students to make their own t-shirts that were hung up on a board next to the clothesline. Many students added phrases of support, while others contributed their own stories and artwork to the board.

The project helps raise awareness and get the UConn community involved with the issue.

The Clothesline Project will be taking place every day until Thursday. For more information, contact nicole.simonsen@uconn.edu.


Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.