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16 February 2012

Project sheds light on dating, domestic abuse

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Senior Gilly Bortman concentrates on designing her T-shirt for the Clothesline Project, an event to raise awareness on sexual assault, dating and domestic violence. Vincent Fung//The Miami Hurricane

On a normal weekday, the University Green is filled with Frisbees, towels, and the occasional puppy. But next Wednesday, the University Green will be filled with a line of shirts.

The shirts are part of The Clothesline Project, an international project that brings awareness to dating and domestic violence. The University of Miami Sexual Assault Response Team  (SART) received a grant from the Verizon Foundation to fund the project and worked alongside No Zebras, Pier 21 and Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE) to bring the event to campus.

The Clothesline Project started in 1990 in Massachusetts and has spread to 41 states and 5 countries, according to the project’s website. Volunteers create T-shirts for the project with messages and pictures about dating and domestic violence. The shirts are then hung in a public area to give bystanders a chance to observe and comment. This is the first time the University of Miami has participated in the event.

Jessica Genet, a predoctoral intern, worked with Dr. Carolyn Eberhardt in the Counseling Center to get student organizations involved with the event. She said the project is about “the idea of exposing the pain that people have been through because it’s often not acknowledged.”

“It’s interactive because you can see the T-shirts and have a conversation about them,” Genet said.

Participants decorated T-shirts for the project on Wednesday night.

“Traditionally, the project is based on the color of shirt,” said senior Coral Millican, the press secretary of No Zebras. “We decided not to use the colored shirts. You decorate, destroy, however you feel to kind of represent your experience or your reaction or how it makes you feel as a community member.”

No Zebras, the organization hosting the T-shirt decorating events, will be hosting a T-shirt decorating session on Thursday at the Stanford Residential College’s Master’s Apartment at 7 p.m.

Next Wednesday, the T-shirts will be displayed on clotheslines clipped to trees across the University Green from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“They will be integrated with the university,” Genet said.

Participating organizations and counseling center staff will have tables nearby to encourage students to discuss their reactions.

Senior Robert Hupf made a shirt on Wednesday to protest the offensive comments he saw on a University of Miami meme.

“The first few comments are rape jokes, really bad ones that were offensive,” Hupf said. “My friends and I called them out on it and it got a lot of support from others because rape isn’t funny. Rape culture is the idea that we’ve become so desensitized to the effect of rape we just make jokes and ignore the issue … I want people to know that if they don’t say anything about it, they are part of the problem.”

Participants felt that students from all backgrounds could appreciate the event.

“It’s worthwhile because it allows students to express themselves even if they haven’t been directly impacted by abuse or don’t know anyone,” said senior Gilly Bortman, who also participated in the event.

6 thoughts on “Project sheds light on dating, domestic abuse

  1. And while we are doing these AWARENESS events, we are also doing things behind the scenes to bring workshops into orientation curriculum to freshman and working with faculty to lessen these instances of violence through restructuring how things are done. So please, instead of anonymously ranting about how you don’t think we are doing anything by doing everything we can (and if you have specific suggestions please come to us and tell us, we would be more than happy to hear what you have to say and try to implement something that you or the student body feels is more fit), realize that there is more going on than meets your very biased, narrow, and seemingly upset eye.

  2. While you think we might have our thumb up our rear not doing anything, people are coming to these events and (I have personal testimonial) coming up to me and THANKING the group for talking about the subjects because they had been too scared or too nervous to talk about it before – all of which could have been for various reasons, and some of those reasons is because they believe no one knows, no one cares, or that they are alone. These events might not line up with your views of awareness but in my opinion, they give a chance for anyone and everyone who encounters them to bring awareness and introspection into themselves, as well as between the people around them, and bring forth any feelings or experiences they may have had, as well as connect with those around them who may have had similar experiences. To me, that first step in healing is awareness, that opening of their eyes is the kind of awareness I want to see in our student body.

  3. Hi RD,

    I am going to have to completely disagree this your statement here. A lot of society today has tried to put a white sheet over everything and blend it all together, ultimately diluting the amount of things that can happen in this overall domain of “violence” or “abuse”. No Zebras talks about sexual assault but we ultimately look at any type of violence or assault, which CAN include but is not limited to dating violence and domestic violence, both of which are two completely different things. However, by saying they are different does NOT mean that one is less important than the other, but rather that they are both extremely imminent instances that need to be brought up, talked about, discussed, brought awareness to, and given the safe space for those who have been affected to find solace and healing.

  4. Saying things like “dating violence” or “domestic violence” bothers me. Perhaps we should reiterate the fact that violence is violence regardless of “theater” (i.e., in the home vs. on the street vs. in a business vs. on a date) and stop with ridiculous sub-classifications like “domestic violence.” Look, assault is assault. Rape is rape. Sexual assault is sexual assault. Battery is battery. It doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter who perpetrated the violence and who was the victim. Continuing to create these little subdomains to “raise awareness” (which, in the long run, only serves to put money/influence in special interests) is counterproductive. How about encouraging and educating people on the fact that violence toward another person – (sexual) assault, battery, rape – is… y’know… WRONG.

    But that takes work. It’s much easier to “raise awareness,” which ultimately is synonymous with “sitting with your thumb up your ass and not doing much of anything at all.”

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