Pierce College’s Associated Student Organization (ASO) launched its annual Clothesline Project virtually on April 28 to spread awareness, and to help those who have been victimized by domestic abuse.
ASO member Rosmelle Melgar said the project was a call to action to acknowledge and support those who have been abuse victims.
“It provides evidence that incest and domestic sexual violence exists in our communities,” Melgar said. “It serves as a visual reminder of statistics that we often ignore, and gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silenced. So hopefully, it encourages other people to take action.”
The project was brought to Pierce by Holly Hagan who was a part of the school’s Campus Violence Response Team.
“I thought that this project would be a great opportunity for people to use their voice anonymously, and give them a safe place to express their feelings because people have a hard time talking about these issues,” Hagan said. “I am a survivor of both sexual assault and domestic violence. I can speak out publicly, but I knew there were other people who just couldn’t do it.”
During the event, ASO members shared self-care tips to practice that could help students cope through challenging times.
Melgar said creating a routine, respecting one’s space, practicing meditation, journaling and setting boundaries are examples of self-care. These practices curate a positive mindset, and it allows people to become more in touch with themselves as well as their feelings.
ASO member Ruanne Catapang also highlighted the benefits of having strong relationships with friends and family.
“Cultivating healthy relationships in the circle of influence is important because it allows us to communicate our needs and desires clearly, and it also helps us so others don’t take advantage of us,” Catapang said.
Catapang explained having meaningful connections with friends and family are important when students might be encountering traumatic events so they have a support system to get them through grave misfortunes.
Normally this event was held on campus, and students would be able to draw symbols and messages that represent the trauma they have survived.
Student Health Center Director Beth Benne described the impact the Clothesline Project had in person.
“There’s nothing more moving than seeing the non-virtual, real-life shirts fluttering in the wind throughout Rocky Mountain Park and up and down the mall,” Benne said. “This can be a very painful and very sensitive [topic],” Benne said.
Hagan shared one of the tragic stories of a student that was discovered at Pierce because of the Clothesline Project.
“In the early stages of the Clothesline Project, there was a student who wrote about being molested at four years old,” Hagan said. “She had never told anybody in her life. It was the shirt that allowed her to have that freedom to speak out about what happened to her. When you don’t have an avenue to express that. It eats you, and it’s so sad that this happens, but it does. This project was really helping people.”
This year students were able to find t-shirts online, and create designs of their own to share their experiences with abuse or causes they stand for and honor. These shirts were observed in silence through a slideshow.
Student Engagement Coordinator & Counselor Lara Conrady said that they planned to have another Clothesline Project event, whether virtual or on-campus, next fall.