Clothesline Project gives victims a voice
Updated: Thursday, April 11 2013, 08:51 AM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Passing by the YWCA this month, you will see a clothesline filled with brightly decorated t-shirts.
If you look closer, you will notice each one actually tells a sad story.
“Here you can see a t-shirt created by a ten-year-old who was sexually assaulted by an athlete,” points out Misty Moon-Larthridge, program director at the YWCA in Kalamazoo.
Moon-Larthridge tells NewsChannel 3 a countless number of people in every community deal with the pain of something they feel like they cannot even talk about: sexual assault.
The Clothesline Project aims to give those victims a voice.
“What it does is it dispels the myth of sexual assault,” Moon-Larthridge says. “We don't talk about sexual assault. It’s something that happens to someone else. So these t-shirts show it can happen to anyone and we want it to be right there in your face so you can't turn a blind eye.”
Victims of sexual assault or their friends and family can visit the YWCA to decorate a t-shirt throughout the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
People can use the t-shirt to express anger, hurt, healing or whatever emotion they are experiencing.
“We find comfort in t-shirts, everybody can wear a t-shirt so something you find so familiar is speaking this very poignant message to the community,” Moon-Larthridge notes.
The YWCA says they served at least 100 victims of sexual assault in Kalamazoo County last year alone.
“When you think about the size of Kalamazoo, that number is pretty daunting,” Moon-Larthridge says. “And there are so many people who don't feel like they can share or don't feel like they can come forward: men, young children, young adolescent females.”
The YWCA is open 24 hours a day and also offers free counseling, advocacy and support groups to victims and their families.
They hope the Clothesline Project will allow people to see how big of an issue sexual assault is in the community and inspire them to take action.
“Some of the messages are very eye-opening,” Moon-Larthridge adds. “That’s what they’re holding inside and so to purge that starts their healing process and keeps them along that path of healing.”
To contact the YWCA, click here: http://www.ywca.org/site/pp.asp?c=bpLJJTOvHmE&b=420737