“I’ll Be There for You, Sister.”
Clothesline Project Raises Awareness of Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence—and of Campus Support for Survivors
“Listen to the next girl.” “Taking back my life.” “I’ll be there for you sister.”
Rows of hand-decorated T-shirts bearing grim, hopeful or angry messages fluttered in a spring breeze yesterday in a visual reminder of the reality of sexual assault and relationship violence.
Hosted by CARE to Stop Violence, a University Health Center resource and advocacy office, the biannual Clothesline Project encouraged passersby on Hornbake Plaza to decorate T-shirts in a show of solidarity and a call for the end to power-based violence during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The incidences of assault and those affected exceed the number of T-shirts displayed, said Rajan Parikh, prevention education coordinator at CARE.
“Events like this allow people to see how big of an issue this is,” he said. “It starts a conversation, and that’s how change begins.”
Beyond College Park, the Clothesline Project has been held by colleges, universities and other organizations across the country since the 1990s.
The era of #MeToo has created a cultural shift encouraging more women to come forward about assault they’ve experienced. Emily Cheng ‘21, a member of Sigma Psi Zeta, a multicultural, Asian-interest sorority with a focus on combating violence against women, said that while the media has exposed the prevalence of this issue, some are still hesitant to speak in fear of public scrutiny.
“We want to push the idea that it is so common, and to support survivors and victims of assault,” she said.