Throughout October — National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — the WSU Women’s Center will display t-shirts in the Shepherd Union atrium as part of The Clothesline Project.
The Clothesline Project, established in Massachusetts in the ’90s, is an awareness campaign to represent people who have survived domestic violence and sexual assault. College campuses nationwide participate in the project.
Alex Dutro-Maeda, WSU Women’s Center program specialist, said the center tabled for a few weeks to give students the opportunity to decorate shirts with stories of survival or messages of support.
“The display is going to represent the fact that domestic violence is a problem in our local communities,” Dutro-Maeda said. “It often gets shoved under the rug and not talked about, especially on college campuses.”
According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, Utah has higher rates of domestic violence than the national average. There have been 21 domestic violence reports filed this year.
“This is a problem we don’t talk enough about, and I think domestic violence flies under the radar a lot. It makes people uncomfortable to think about,” Dutro-Maeda said. “Specifically because domestic violence happens from explicitly people that we know, and that’s a hard thing for people to face.”
Since 2000, 42 percent of Utah homicides are domestic violence related, according to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.
Dutro-Maeda said she hopes the shirts catch people’s eye about what the project is and how to become more aware of this issue.
“These are powerful statements and messages and we’re hoping this can stem a conversation,” Dutro-Maeda said. “Even if it’s just checking in with friends and family, recognizing red flags, being able to know what resources are offered and talking to people about it, that’s all we really hope for.”
The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition offers a variety of resources on their website. People can find shelters, get a protective order and learn more about treatment centers and drug and alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.