Project to Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence Returns to Cape Cod Community College

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Cape Cod Community College students viewing the Cape Cod Clothesline Project which was on display in the lobby of the Tilden Arts Center on Tuesday.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
Cape Cod Community College students viewing the Cape Cod Clothesline Project which was on display in the lobby of the Tilden Arts Center on Tuesday.

WEST BARNSTABLE – The issue of domestic and sexual violence was on display at Cape Cod Community College Tuesday.

The Cape Cod Clothesline Project returned to the school and was exhibited in the lobby of the Tilden Arts Center.

The project, which was started on the Cape in 1990, gives women who have been affected by violence a way to display their stories and emotions.

Women design t-shirts and hang them on a public clothesline to physically “turn their back on” and symbolically “walk away” from their experiences.

The clothesline was brought to the campus by the college’s Honors Colloquium class.

The title of the class is “Listening to the Silenced” and was focused on gender.

“It’s very touching. You can’t really ignore it. It’s very visual,” said Kate Martin, a history professor and one of the teachers of the class. “It gets you right in the gut.”

Michele Wolfson is a professor of psychology and teaches the class with Martin.

“It’s definitely a healing experience for those who have been victims or survivors,” Wolfson said. “It certainly is an awareness making it public and really giving a voice to this very sad, horrendous reality in our society.”

Martin believes seeing the clothesline is also a powerful learning experience for the students who may not have had their lives or those of loved ones directly affected by violence.

“By giving the students this agency it gets them even more than aware,” she said.

Wolfson said that not all of the shirts hanging on the clotheslines were designed by women.

“They are also made by men and children because obviously men and little boys have been victims as well,” she said. “And it is also been made by men who are making a shirt for their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.”

Another professor at the school thought it was beneficial and brought her students to experience the display.

“I think it’s really important that we bring awareness to domestic violence and also homicide and rape of individuals and bring students in to be impacted by the words of survivors,” said Krytin St. Onge, a professor in the behavioral science department at the school.

St. Onge’s students are in the process of studying social issues in psychology and the impact that violence has on the community and individuals.

“I thought it would be moving for them to get outside of the classroom and be moved by the clothesline project.”

The shirts were supplied by Independece House, a Cape Cod non-profit that helps survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Chris Morin, the prevention, outreach, education and volunteer coordinator for Independence House, was also on hand to provide educational information.

“Independence House has a section of these t-shirts so that we can bring them different places for awareness,” Morin said. “This particular subject is very difficult to talk about and so awareness campaigns are an initial step of getting people to put language to it and understand how very deep this issue is.”

One of the students of the class that brought the display to the school came up with the idea of writing the phone number for Independence House on all of the clothespins holding up the shirts.

Along with the display, music was played in the background. A gong played every 10 seconds for each woman battered in the country. A whistle was blown every one to two minutes to represent each time a woman is raped in the U.S. and a bell was rung once every fifteen minutes for every woman murdered.

A Silent Witness Initiative display was also held in the lobby to represent the woman who have lost their lives from a violent domestic act.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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